Old 04-24-2009, 06:57 AM   #561
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would you really say "oh, no..."?
Not "live" exactly, but when I was mixing my own CD recently I decided there were only two choices for any take: either it was there to be heard as a distinct part of the music or it got thrown away. That caused me to discard some things that sounded good alone, but crowded the mix more than I liked.

A friend provided some nice 12-string acoustic backing for me. Last weekend I soloed his part for him as I used it post-EQ. It's horribly bright with almost no resonance, but with a 6-string and bass filling out the rest of the spectrum, I think it adds a very nice touch to that whole section. He had previously heard the final mix and had no problem with what I'd done to his guitar *in context* but was surprised by the high-pass version.
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Old 04-24-2009, 05:26 PM   #562
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As much as it feels like asking a doctor how best to use cocaine;

What general rules and philosophies (as opposed to specific plugins and presets) would you suggest for mastering (and indeed mixing, if it applies) for the times when you want to compete in the loudness race?
Shelve down all the lows and lower mids on the master out a few dB more than you otherwise would (let the listener adjust the tone controls). This will free up a lot of headroom to turn up the presence range. Clip or limit all transients shorter than a few ms. Pan strategically, and dynamically as necessary, to maximize use of both channels. Send the bass into a fast compressor with the drums triggering the side-chain to clamp down on big bass waves during drum transients. Similarly, use vocals into the side-chain of a slower compressor to duck guitars/synths slightly during singing, which will allow you to crank the guitar/synth a few more dB.

But honestly, the real-world cases where there is ANY reason to try and compete with the loudness race are so few and far between as to be practically nonexistent. Every commercial broadcast and most modern public sound systems already use broadcast processing to level-match everything, so people are going to hear your songs at the same average level as everything else, meaning that really loud mixes/masters are only going to end up QUIETER and more degraded in these scenarios. The radio and TV stations have a very strong interest in maintaining consistent playback levels, and they will not allow your record to play back louder or quieter than any other. And CD listeners at home and in the car can and will simply adjust the volume to taste, defeating any attempt you make to try and sound "louder." And even most contemporary mp3 players and computer media players have some kind of level-matching built-in these days, to protect you during "shuffle" play, assuming the listener is not capable of adjusting volume to taste. Which frankly most people do constantly (adjust volume, that is).

This is the real tragedy of the loudness race-- it's really and truly pointless, if not outright self-defeating. It is based entirely on ignorance and the misunderstanding of in-studio A/B tests that *seem* to be neutral and empirical but that are actually completely misleading. Going all the way back to the very earliest posts in this thread about level-matched listening, and "louder always sounding better, even when it's worse," the loudness race WOULD BE defensible IF you could actually use signal level to reach through the speakers and turn up the volume at playback. But you can't, no matter how much it seems otherwise. The listener has the volume knob. All you can do is to either make clean, dynamic, exciting, high-quality recordings that the listener will want to turn up and enjoy, or grating, shredded, flat, unnatural recordings that the listener will keep turning down due to ear fatigue.

edit:

It should really be called the "FLATNESS race," not the "loudness" race.

Last edited by yep; 04-24-2009 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 04-27-2009, 03:54 PM   #563
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That said, the REASON why these kinds of things offer such a blanket improvement is because most home studio tracks were recorded wrong to begin with (not to mention that many amateur arrangements are flawed from the outset, although these days the line between "mix" and "arrangement" is often a very blurry one).
I can't disagree. As I've improved in my mixing, I'm getting better at hearing the flaws in my original tracking. As you've said, finished is better than perfect, so I hope by completing these mixes (including some massive and necessary EQ adjustments) I'm better preparing my ears to listen more critically the next time around. For example, I'll be much more cautious about proximity effect on mics in my next tracking session. Also, I have to do some sound treatment along the lines in this forum.

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What happens is that everyone is chasing that one awesome bass sound that totally sold the song, and also that one awesome guitar sound that totally stole the show, and also that one screaming synth lead that blows everyone away, and that massive vocal that seems to come from all around and above, and that huge drum kit the size of mount everest, and so on, all at the same time. Which is really hard to pull off.
There's also a solo/home recording effect, at least in my case and perhaps others. Because I work on my own, I recorded a simple drum snare as a click track first. Then I put down guitars (my "native" instrument), vocals, and piano. I worked hard on those and they sounded pretty good mixed. Then I went back and worked really hard on the drums and bass - which I left for last as it's not my stength. When I was done, I had a good drum/bass rhythm section, but it was stomping all over the original tracks. Had I layed down the drum/bass first and tracked against those I would have made very different decisions on the guitar/vocals/piano so they fit better into the rhythm section.

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But hopefully these exercises start to lead to better, more tasteful, more judicious tracking in the first place, and to a better understanding that what sounds best solo does not always work in a mix. Moreover, something that was tracked right in the first place often sounds a lot better than using eq to undo something that was tracked with the mic shoved right in the source and the preamp gain cranked and so on.
This really cleared something up for me. I've recorded several songs that are just guitar+vocals, or piano+vocals, and I've been very happy with the sound, no issues. But my problems came on fuller mixes with bass/drums/etc. I now realize that the guitar/piano/vocals need to be recorded a lot "thinner" on these latter songs than on the former. It's a totally different micing/recording approach so you gotta know your goal up front.

I think next time around, if I know the song will have drums/bass, I'll do some very quick guitar/piano/vocal roughs that I know I'll throw away. Then I'll lay down the bass/drums foundation. After that I'll track the guitars/vocals/piano to be used in the mix, monitoring the drums/bass during setup. I think this will help me to make better decisions on micing technique, placement, etc.
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Old 04-27-2009, 05:19 PM   #564
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Is there a magic secret that will allow me to add verb to an acoustic guitar recording without destroying the clarity ?
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Old 04-27-2009, 05:29 PM   #565
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Tinkering with the reverb's Predelay and Early Reflections can help a lot. If your reverb doesn't have either of those, get a better one. 10-30 milliseconds of predelay separates the original sound from the echo a bit, and turning down the early reflections gives you more of an ambient sound, as opposed to a series of echoes.
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Old 04-27-2009, 08:44 PM   #566
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...I think next time around, if I know the song will have drums/bass, I'll do some very quick guitar/piano/vocal roughs that I know I'll throw away. Then I'll lay down the bass/drums foundation. After that I'll track the guitars/vocals/piano to be used in the mix, monitoring the drums/bass during setup. I think this will help me to make better decisions on micing technique, placement, etc.
Yes, this is exactly right. One of the few actual "rules" of recording is that starting with the drums+bass (or drums then bass) produces the best recordings. Incidentally, the same is true with mixing. It is usually always best practice to start from a good drum and bass mix, and then build the rest of the mix around it (I usually like to bring in the vocals first).

We could talk about and debate the reasons why all day and all night, but the reality is that it just tends to work better.

Also, a "scratch track" of an actual performance of the song with vocals is always better than a click (even if the scratch was cut to a click). So the best process is *usually* scratch track>drums, bass> rest of the rhythm instruments> leads and vocals> sweeteners and backing parts.

It is very hard to play good accompaniment without hearing some version of the vocal cues. And getting better at mixing leads to getting better at tracking, which leads to getting better at performing, which leads to getting better at arranging, which eventually makes you a full-menu producer. I.e. someone who just has an intuitive feel for what makes a good record, even of a bad band.
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:34 PM   #567
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Is there a magic secret that will allow me to add verb to an acoustic guitar recording without destroying the clarity ?
Hurm. Go back and check page 13 of this thread if you have not already done so.

Lokasenna gave some useful suggestions but it's very hard to generalize about reverb. There is no "magic secret" but if you're struggling there is probably some help.

There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of reverb, dictated not by the brand of processor nor the specific settings but entirely by how they are used to affect the sound. The first and most obvious kind is the audible "effect" reverb such as included in synths and guitar amplifiers. This is the kind most familiar to musicians. The kind more widely used by mix engineers and producers is a much more subliminal kind of "sense of space" reverb. Where you are not trying to make sound bigger or watery or far away or spacey, but just trying to create a sense of place and depth.

The latter kind of reverb is all about the details, and they vary a lot from one source and one mix to the next. The trick is that it usually should not "sound" like reverb. In fact it usually shouldn't "sound like" anything at all. It should just be a sense of spaciousness that you only notice when it's gone.

Finding the right decay, so that the reverb tails out as a proportinal extension of the notes, and finding the right balance of high- and low-filters so that the reverb sounds like a natural resonance instead of an "effect", and finding the right reflection density so that the reverb naturally complements the sound of the instrument and sounds appropriate to the sonic "space" that it should exist in (e.g. a living room vs. a concert hall), and finding the right predelay so that the reverb has an appropriate sense of size and separation relative to the virtual "space" you're trying to create is all a matter of trial and error. As is the all-important task of simply picking the right "flavor" or reverb to begin with.

This last might actually be the hardest for home studios. As I said earlier, a lot of reverb plugins suck. A lot of them sound metallic or ringy or splashy or essy and harsh or dull and mucky or just generally fake, and so on.

The reverb algorithm itself will determine the sonic quality of the "room" that your sound is placed in. The rest is just fiddling with where the listener is seated in relation to the performer and so on, and is frankly easier to do than it is to describe, because really who cares whether you put them in row 3 or row 25 if they're sitting in symphony hall? Just mess around a little, keeping in mind that reverb should be at a subliminal level, and flow with the vibe. Setting up the reverb should be fun, and kind of a right-brain creative thing compared to, say, adjusting the compressor or tuning out esses with an eq and so on.

Not quite sure if that answers your question, but don't hesitate to ask...
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Old 04-28-2009, 02:55 AM   #568
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This last might actually be the hardest for home studios. As I said earlier, a lot of reverb plugins suck. A lot of them sound metallic or ringy or splashy or essy and harsh or dull and mucky or just generally fake, and so on.
If there is no other option - like a high quality reverb would be - then EQing the reverb tail helped at least a bit for me (high cut against splashiness or harshness and a severe highpass to get rid of muddy bass)

... can this be confirmed by others?
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Old 04-28-2009, 06:09 AM   #569
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(high cut against splashiness or harshness and a severe highpass to get rid of muddy bass)
That sounds right to me. I was very unhappy with reverbs that I was trying to use until I discovered (in ReaVerb) that I could adjust filters for high and low cuts.
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Old 04-28-2009, 03:27 PM   #570
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Send the bass into a fast compressor with the drums triggering the side-chain to clamp down on big bass waves during drum transients.
GENERALLY, Should all drums trigger the side-chain or just kick & snare, or maybe something else?
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Old 04-28-2009, 05:01 PM   #571
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Thanks guys for all the great tips on verb for acoustic guitar

I've been able to nail down a nice, fairly ambient verb for vocals but I've been finding acoustic guitar difficult.

So, I'll try these tips next time around.

Thanks for the extended response Yep !




Oh ! ( BTW ) I tried recording an acoustic guitar in stereo this past weekend using the spaced pair technique, I was careful to observe the 3-to-1 rule.

It sounded Muuuch better than what I have been getting ! and it didn't fall apart in Mono !

It was the first time I have been totally happy with the acoustic
guitar sound to date.


Ted

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Old 04-28-2009, 05:45 PM   #572
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Update:


AHA !


It was the early reflections setting that was clouding the acoustic guitar !

I typically turn that up to support vocal timbre on my vox verb chain.

It didn't occur to me to try dialing out the early reflections on the guitar verb chain UNTIL I reread Lokasenna's suggestion.

After rereading it, I slapped my head and thought, of course !


Sooooo, Thanks To Lokasenna !


Ted

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Old 04-28-2009, 06:21 PM   #573
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GENERALLY, Should all drums trigger the side-chain or just kick & snare, or maybe something else?
Just kick, or kick+snare are the most common. But fortunately Reaper's routing makes it ridiculously easy to try any combination you can think of.

This is the kind of processing where it is not so much an effort to "sound good" as to find out how much gain reduction you can get before it starts to sound bad. It's also completely pointless, as I said above.
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Old 04-28-2009, 07:07 PM   #574
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It's also completely pointless, as I said above.
Completely pointless, OK. But it was also (I thought) one of the more interesting ideas in this idea-rich thread. The principles at work in the procedure are worth being aware of, since they would apply and be useful in contexts other than the loudness race. You can see just how and why it would work. It's quite clever, really. I plan on giving it a go just to see what kind of damage I can do.

There was also something poetic, almost haiku-like, in how the recipe read. Check it out! (This is verbatim... with a little editing, it would totally sing!)

Quote:
Shelve down
all the lows and lower mids
on the master out
a few dB more
than you otherwise would
(let the listener adjust the tone controls).
This will free up a lot of headroom
to turn up the presence range.

Clip or limit all transients
shorter than a few ms.
Pan strategically,
and dynamically
as necessary,
to maximize use of both channels.

Send the bass into a fast compressor
with the drums triggering the side-chain
to clamp down on big bass waves
during drum transients.

Similarly, use vocals
into the side-chain
of a slower compressor
to duck guitars/synths slightly during singing,
which will allow you
to crank
the guitar/synth
a
few
more
dB.
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Old 04-29-2009, 08:11 PM   #575
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Completely pointless, OK. But it was also (I thought) one of the more interesting ideas in this idea-rich thread. The principles at work in the procedure are worth being aware of, since they would apply and be useful in contexts other than the loudness race. You can see just how and why it would work. It's quite clever, really. I plan on giving it a go just to see what kind of damage I can do.
There is certainly nothing wrong with maximizing signal level, as long as it is non-destructive to the sound quality. If nothing else, it gives more resolution.

Similarly, side-chain ducking can absolutely be used as an aesthetic effect. A lot of dance music ducks the bass with the kick to create a tighter, more unified low end, and to lock the bass and kick together. And using a smidgen of "vocals ducking guitars" can help the impression of "loud" guitars that overwhelm the vocals in level while still allowing the vocal to be heard.

What is pointless is trying to make a mix or master hotter for the sake of being hotter. It basically never makes any real-world listener's experience of the music "louder," just "flatter." (Please note that there ARE certain occasions where a "flatter" mix might be desirable for some reason or another, but in those cases a "flat" mix normalized to -12dB is just as good as, and usually better than, a "flat" mix normalized to -.03dB).

Quote:
There was also something poetic, almost haiku-like, in how the recipe read. Check it out! (This is verbatim... with a little editing, it would totally sing!)
I'm a poet and I didn't even know it!
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Old 04-29-2009, 08:48 PM   #576
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I had a hunch that the Loudness Race strategies would have wider applications, but my specific scenario at the moment is this:
Trying my hand at mastering (for the first time) on a friends band. The tracking/mixing was (it seems) done in a bedroom studio and suffers from uneven bass guitar (1 or 2 notes dominate and the rest disappear) and massive transients on the kick and snare eating up all the headroom.
The songs are destined for the myspace arena, so trying to retain quality is partly an academic exercise. I tried to get the average loudness somewhat close to a reference cd the friend gave me, but struggled to deal with the kick and snare transients.

Main Questions:
When dealing with transients and trying to gain headroom, is a compressor with pre-comp useful or should I turn to soft/hard clipping/limiting?
AND
should low frequency transients (kick) be dealt with in a different way?

I tried twiddling with some precomp and quick release, but gained hardly any headroom before noticable pumping.
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Old 04-30-2009, 12:13 AM   #577
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Maybe have them rework it at the mix level.

It sounds like it needs compression on the kick and snare and some work on those disappearing bass notes.

You can't really fix stuff like that at the mastering level and you can't get modern levels with those kinds of transient spikes.
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Old 04-30-2009, 05:21 PM   #578
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It is a job, but if the drum spikes are as bad as you say, I would go in a manually drop each of their volumes to a more even level with the rest of the track...a lot of work, but you will never get any type of decent compression working with major transits like that...

I find myself doing this more & more because of the improvement it gives over letting a plugin try to deal with it, and in the end whatever plugin I DO use does not have to work as hard, double winner!

As for the bass, I look forward to hearing what has worked for you!
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Old 04-30-2009, 07:02 PM   #579
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nerdfactormax View Post
I had a hunch that the Loudness Race strategies would have wider applications, but my specific scenario at the moment is this:
Trying my hand at mastering (for the first time) on a friends band. The tracking/mixing was (it seems) done in a bedroom studio and suffers from uneven bass guitar (1 or 2 notes dominate and the rest disappear) and massive transients on the kick and snare eating up all the headroom.
The songs are destined for the myspace arena, so trying to retain quality is partly an academic exercise. I tried to get the average loudness somewhat close to a reference cd the friend gave me, but struggled to deal with the kick and snare transients.

Main Questions:
When dealing with transients and trying to gain headroom, is a compressor with pre-comp useful or should I turn to soft/hard clipping/limiting?
AND
should low frequency transients (kick) be dealt with in a different way?

I tried twiddling with some precomp and quick release, but gained hardly any headroom before noticable pumping.
Mastering is a completely, completely different animal, and I'm not sure how much I have to contribute to a general discussion of mastering other than to say don't master your own mixes. If they don't sound right, fix the mix. There is nothing that a home recordist can do in the way of self-mastering that they can't do better by re-mixing.

The point of "mastering" (in the sense that most recording forum-goers think of it) is to fix the stuff that's wrong with the mix. Which, if you can hear it in your own mix, should be fixed in the mix. That way the mastering engineer (even if it's you) doesn't have to worry about anything other than duplication.

What nerdfactormax is doing is not actually "mastering." It is "making a two-track mix sound better." Which *is* something that mastering engineers frequently do, because they often get flawed mixes that they can improve, but that process is a sort of "pre-mastering" (in fact, pre-mastering is exactly what it is called).

From that point of view, audio is audio and there is nothing different about processing a two-track recording of a whole band than anything else in this thread. You can do whatever you want to make it sound better. Frankly running the whole thing through a distortion pedal should not be ruled out.

To the specific point of evening out the dynamics, you could obviously a compressor or a limiter, or use Smurf's method of manually drawing in envelope changes, or simply ride the faders. The obvious challenge with any of these is that whatever method you use to drop the level of the kick drum is also necessarily going to drop the level of every other instrument. Whether that pumping is good or bad, and which method will be the least offensive on any particular source material is an open question, and the "best" answer depends on your skill, your gear, and how much time you want to spend.

Using a multiband compressor can mitigate some of the pumping artifacts. For example, if you took two tracks of the exact same source material, and use a high-pass filter to cut off all the lows at say 500Hz on one track, and used a lo-pass filter to cut off all the highs ABOVE 500Hz on the other, and then sum the two tracks together, they'll basically be the same as the original source material. Except now you can apply a compressor to ONLY the material below 500Hz, and then mix the compressed lows back into the unprocessed mids and highs. This might allow you to sculpt the dynamics of the kick and low bass without causing the sensitive vocals to suck and pump in and out on the kick hits.

The above is the oldest and original form of multiband compression. But lots of modern multiband compression (a.k.a "dynamic eq") plugins automate the whole splitting and summing business, making it very easy to have lots of bands, maybe including one "tuned" to the spikiest frequency of the snare drum or some such. So there's one approach.

Parallel processing is another potentially useful trick in situations where it's hard to get the just the right processing. You basically clone the track, then apply the hardest, flattest compression (or whatever) to one track, to try and completely flatten out the level, and then mix it back in with the unprocessed track, allowing you to more easily "tune" the critical balance. This is sometimes called "Motown" or "New York" compression (don't ask).

You could try multiband processing on the parallel, and you might get a very transparent form of compression. You could take it a step further and try filtering the "unprocessed" track with eq or some such to try and zero in on say the vocals and strings or some such to try and really separate the two streams into "needs compression" and "needs to sound uncompressed." You might even end up with one compressed track of just the lows, one uncompressed track of the whole mix, one focused, uncompressed track of the "vocal focus" eq, and one compressed track of "snare focus," then mixing those four stems together to effectively try and "remix" the song as though you were mixing a live multitrack with a lot of bleed.

You might also find that some reverb or delay applied after the compression (of whatever sort) might help to "smooth over" the pumping. You might also try some saturation or mild distortion effects (maybe in parallel or multiband) to substitute a little added "crunch" in place of compressor pumping. This might happen either in place of or in conjunction with compression, parallel, multiband, whatever.

A mastering engineer might also use creative phase cancellation, gating and eq'ing a clone to isolate just the kick, snare, and bass, and then inverting the phase and mixing with the original stem to try and reduce those specific elements.

Last but certainly not least, don't overlook plain-jane eq. If you can hi-pass at 50Hz, shelve down everything below ~12k by 4db, and scoop out some of the "mud" frequencies at ~250Hz, then you might be able to turn up the track by 4dB or more before clipping. The slightly lighter bass might be less offensive than compression artifacts, and will almost certainly make the band happy in a straight A/B test if your ethics don't prevent you from "cheating" by using the loudness effect to deceive them in that way. You could also of course combine this version as yet another stem with some of the other processes above.

Good mastering engineers will combine any and all of these techniques, and others, to "remix" material as necessary in the premastering stage, which gives them a reputation for being magic-workers, which in turn leads to the misperception that "mastering" is the key to great sound. But as you can see from all the above, it would be much, much easier for a home recordist to simply go nac and re-work the mix if the kick and snare are too loud.

These kinds of techniques push the technical and aesthetic limits of audio processing, and working all these stems and crossover filters for multiband and so on tends to introduce progressively more and more phase smear and other processing artifacts. For this reason, professional mastering engineers tend to be pretty obsessive about using specialized, high-quality equipment and minimalist processing whenever possible. With 50 stems and unlimited processors, you could practically remix the whole song this way, but the audio degradation would be worse than the improved mix. Moreover it would be exponentially more difficult and time-consuming than simply doing a remix of the original source tracks.
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Old 05-01-2009, 03:35 PM   #580
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Yep, a quick question if I can.

In a much earlier post you referred to "using a high-pass filter or a shelving filter to get rid of [low end clutter and mud.]"

What is the practical difference between pass filters and negative-gain shelf filters? I routinely have some degree of high-pass on just about everything. But shelving is a bit more mysterious. When would one be more appropriate over the other?

This seems like it should be obvious, just looking at their respective shapes... and by listening... but something still eludes me.

Thanks!
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Old 05-01-2009, 04:41 PM   #581
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"High-pass" means the filter "passes" everything above the cutoff frequency and blocks everything below the cutoff frequency. So the filter shape should sharply curve down to an infinite gain reduction, depending on the steepness of the filter (Q setting). "Low-pass" is the same thing, except in reverse-- the highs are blocked, and lows are "passed" through the filter.

A "shelving" filter is just like a "step" or "shelf" that evenly raises or lowers everything past the filter frequency. It's like a tone control on a stereo.

As an aside, using terms like "high pass" to refer to an eq curve that cuts all the lows might seem a little confusing-- why not just say "low cut"? The thing is that "low cut" could refer to a shelving filter or even a notch filter. "High pass" clearly describes a hard cutoff filter that only passes frequencies above the cutoff.

Hope that makes sense.
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Old 05-01-2009, 08:14 PM   #582
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I apologize in advance for this somewhat personal post-- people looking for recording/mixing/audio advice can skip it:

Apparently in response to my (hopefully helpful) comments in this thread, I've gotten a few PMs similar to the one quoted below (personal info removed):

Quote:
yep, late last year I tracked 12 songs for some friends band...
So i have the songs mixed and i'm just doing final tweeks before I send them of for mastering, but as this is my 1st recording project ( except for doing a few of my own songs) I,m not really sure where to say thats it there ready. So i'm wondering if you'd mind having a listen to 1 of the tracks and giving me your opinion on if it sounds right or if it needs more work in some areas ?...
While I am certainly flattered to be asked, I have a couple of generic thoughts to offer:

- I like forums because they allow everyone (myself included) to learn and benefit from the specific challenges and wisdom of individual experiences. I am not necessarily a better judge of your recording than anybody else, and other people might offer better advice than me. Just as importantly, other people in a similar position to you might benefit from the public discussion of your specific concerns and challenges.

- I post on public forums in the hope learning and of sharing my own insights. Private consultations are another matter. My time is limited, as is everyone's, and it is worth something. If I offered you a gig at a public venue in front of a public crowd, you might take it for free, just for the pure sake of sharing your music. But if I asked you to come over to my place and play a private concert, that might be a different scenario.

- I hope it will not be seen as a solicitation but just as a piece of info when I say that I do remixes at nominal rates for full-album projects that I like, especially if they have consistent instrumentation. Hourly and project rates are variable, but I'll mix a typical "cheapie" self-tracked garage band album mix for ~$500 depending on the project, and a full-blown (remix) production with additional layering and instrumentation for double or triple that. I always provide all stems, the complete project files, and detailed notes with every project. And it won't need "mastering." (these days you may well get much bigger names than me for less). It does not take me any less work or time to load a project into the studio, figure out the changes, and type up the notes. So I'm not really able to give a "discount" to just provide the advice and settings and not do the work.

-That said, if you have the courage to post your files and accept public criticism, and if you ask good, informed questions and have put some effort into trying to do it the right way to begin with, and if I happen to stumble across it and have time to respond, I'm happy to offer general opinions on recordings if I think I have something to contribute. Public discussions of specific examples help everyone, and free advice is worth what you pay for it.

- Last but not least, if you specifically want my general opinion of something, just send me a link (or better yet, post it). I dislike promising in advance to give input on something, especially without knowing whether it already applies all the free advice that is already available.

Sorry for the aside. I post it here only because I've had a number of similar requests, and that tells me there might be other people wondering the same things.
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Old 05-01-2009, 09:08 PM   #583
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In the subject of high-passing everything... I am worried because I have read about distortions and phase shifts especially with utility track EQs (as opposed to high quality and CPU demanding latency inducing linear phase -whatever they're called- EQ).

So even though I have gotten into the habit of highpassing most tracks into a mix I am working on, I fear I may be making the way for a sterile end-result.

I am an amateur and I cannot make proper judgments on this. What I did, on this rock song I am working on, is reserve the low-end for the bass and kick, and high-pass everything else from 150Hz-200Hz down (either the ReaEQ gentle high-pass or a JS 12dB highpass plugin).

Maybe high-pass filtering is better suited for tracks that have *problems* (noise, rumble etc) on the low end? Maybe shelving filters are smoother and more gentle for reducing lower frequencies?

Thanks
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Old 05-01-2009, 09:25 PM   #584
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On notable reason for high/low-passing things is to save on energy. No, not the current you're drawing from the wall, but the amount of sound energy running through your mix.

Even if it's not obvious to your ears, all those tracks that you didn't high-pass are contributing their bass to the overall sound. The biggest effect I notice with this is that it fucks with your compressors - you might not hear a peak at 40Hz, but your master comp sure will, causing it to activate for no apparent reason.

The same goes for the really high frequencies. On their own, you might detect a whistling, but in the mix they might as well not be there. And they can just as easily do things like trip your compressor, or cause a peak on your meter when you can't find anything wrong.

An analogy that just occurred to me is groups of people walking down the street. If everyone is swinging their arms out to the sides, zig-zagging, people are going to run into each other and potentially cause trouble. If everyone goes in more-or-less a straight line, keeping their arms mostly to themselves, everyone has space to walk.

As with anything and everything in the audio world, any "rules" about how much to high-pass, etc are completely subjective, dependent on your taste and your particular mix. Some people would say to do it on everything so your mix is nice and clean, but others would want to leave some room, if they bothered doing it at all, because they feel it makes the mix sound boxy, or stale, or whatever their favorite word that day is.

In terms of *cough* "proper" modern mixing, I think it's pretty common to kill the low-end on everything but your kick, bass, and maybe the toms. The guitars can go down to, say, 150-250 depending on how much you can do before they sound wimpy. But it's really up to you.

Personally I tend to go with a lot of high-passing because my system has shit for bass response and I don't want any muddy surprises, but that's just me and my situation.
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Old 05-02-2009, 07:36 AM   #585
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
Even if it's not obvious to your ears, all those tracks that you didn't high-pass are contributing their bass to the overall sound. The biggest effect I notice with this is that it fucks with your compressors - you might not hear a peak at 40Hz, but your master comp sure will, causing it to activate for no apparent reason.
After cleaning up the highs and lows on several of my tracks, the other thing I've noticed is much better MP3 conversion results, especially at lower resolutions like 128kbps. My 128kbps MP3s before had very clear artifacts not apparent in the WAV files or in 192kbps conversions.
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Old 05-03-2009, 11:37 PM   #586
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New yep file is up!

http://www.filesavr.com/01yepthreads...-2-09thread582

Enjoy!
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Old 05-04-2009, 12:08 AM   #587
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thanks Smurf,
appreciate your effort ...
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Old 05-05-2009, 06:38 AM   #588
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yep View Post
Vocal mic: MXL V67G-- extremely "big" sounding LD condenser with massive "movie announcer" proximity effect. Very forgiving near-range placement/pickup that picks up minimal room sound while still sounding consistent when recording a moving head. Very hype and "big" sounding, with a forward, slightly crunchy top end that smooths and flatters dull, weak singers but that might turn a little brittle on airy females or whispery males. Like a slightly overdone impression of classic tube mics. Most "expensive" sounding mic I know of under $100.
I had the chance to record through the V67i (like the V67G + another capsule with more treble you can chose from).

Two other mics in comparison where AT 4035 and Beyer MC90.

Amazing how yep's description just hit the nail! The overly "movie anouncer" can be avoided by placing the pop-filter far enough. Then it feels comfortably big and warm and phat...

Otherwise it sounded almost *perfect* without EQ on the female singers voice and mine (bariton) as well. Really silky air... almost no de-essing needed, though! Nice tone in the mid range...

In deed: Really bing bang for the buck!

Cheers
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:25 AM   #589
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Re: shelf filters

Quote:
Originally Posted by yep View Post

[snip]

It's like a tone control on a stereo.

[snip]

Hope that makes sense.
Actually, when you describe it that way... so simple, really... it makes great sense.

Thank you!
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Old 05-06-2009, 05:49 PM   #590
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan View Post
In the subject of high-passing everything... I am worried because I have read about distortions and phase shifts especially with utility track EQs (as opposed to high quality and CPU demanding latency inducing linear phase -whatever they're called- EQ).

So even though I have gotten into the habit of highpassing most tracks into a mix I am working on, I fear I may be making the way for a sterile end-result.

I am an amateur and I cannot make proper judgments on this. What I did, on this rock song I am working on, is reserve the low-end for the bass and kick, and high-pass everything else from 150Hz-200Hz down (either the ReaEQ gentle high-pass or a JS 12dB highpass plugin).

Maybe high-pass filtering is better suited for tracks that have *problems* (noise, rumble etc) on the low end? Maybe shelving filters are smoother and more gentle for reducing lower frequencies?

Thanks
That's a big question, and a big topic.

YES, eq does cause phase smear. So does tilting your head to one side or another while listening, or moving the mic off-axis, or listening with speaker at an angle, reflections in the room, everything else.

"Phase" is just an element of sound. "Phase problems" are no different from "bad sound" in that sense. So if you are doing something that makes bad sound, stop.

Please note that nowhere in this thread or anywhere else have I said that you should high-pass everything. Just that those filters are often overlooked by beginners, and something to experiment with. "Rules and recipes" are exactly what I have hoped to avoid.

But the most important part of your post is this:

Quote:
I am an amateur and I cannot make proper judgments on this.
If you can't hear the difference between good sound and bad sound then neither I nor anyone else can help you to make good recordings. However I very much doubt that is true.

Can you tell the difference between a good-sounding recording and a bad one? If so, then you CAN make the necessary judgments. Once you start to learn in a practical sense WHY certain things sound bad or good, and how to bridge the divide, it will become a lot easier and progress faster, but the ability to hear "sounds good" and "doesn't sound good" is all you need.

Go all the way back and re-read the first page of this thread. The very first and most important step is to trust what you hear. Trying to make good recordings without that trust and confidence is madness. And ALL YOU NEED IS EARS. Seriously, go back and start at the beginning. That's where the most important stuff is.

As an aside, (edit: the following paragraph is actually all wrong, and a bad test, and should be ignored. I leave it in only for thread continuity) if you want to hear what severe phase-smear sounds like, take a track, put a bunch of steep, narrow eq boosts on it, then drop in a second eq plugin and put a bunch of exactly opposite eq CUTS, to undo all the boosts you just did. Now toggle the fx on and off. The eq'd version will sound sort of veiled and grainy and generally "lower quality" than the unprocessed version. The steeper and narrower your eq, the more phase distortions you'll get. So if you do the same test with just a couple of very shallow, low-Q-setting boosts and cuts, the effect might be almost indistinguishable from the unprocessed version.

And all of this kind of stuff is the reason to do everything as well as you can, every step of the way. If you find yourself shelving all your tracks, then maybe it's time to look at the mic and placement and recording techniques you're using.

Last edited by yep; 05-08-2009 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:47 PM   #591
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Quote:
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As an aside, if you want to hear what severe phase-smear sounds like, take a track, put a bunch of steep, narrow eq boosts on it, then drop in a second eq plugin and put a bunch of exactly opposite eq CUTS, to undo all the boosts you just did. Now toggle the fx on and off. The eq'd version will sound sort of veiled and grainy and generally "lower quality" than the unprocessed version. The steeper and narrower your eq, the more phase distortions you'll get. So if you do the same test with just a couple of very shallow, low-Q-setting boosts and cuts, the effect might be almost indistinguishable from the unprocessed version.
Unless I'm doing something wrong, this is all placebo.
I just put two identical tracks in a project, added 2 instances of ReaEq with ExTrEmE (and opposite) settings in one track, toggled the phase of the 2nd track and the whole thing nulled.

My Hypothesis: Phase distoring on opposite eq's is... well... opposite.

In the analogue world, the concept (processing back and forth accumulating general badness) probably still holds a lot of water, but I don't think it applies as much here in the digital realm.

Disclaimer: I could be doing something wrong, and I'm happy to be corrected.

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Old 05-06-2009, 09:15 PM   #592
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The phase problems you're introducing that way are going to null out too, since they'll be identical on both tracks.

Yep's example works because the signal gets slightly degraded (for lack of a better word) by the first EQ's phase smearing, and then further degraded by the second one even though the EQ is being set back to zero.

...I think.
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:02 PM   #593
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Track 1: (same)Audio data -> Eq -> Opposite Eq
Track 2: (same)Audio data -> Invert Phase
Master: Pure silence
This means that eqing then eqing back does not degrade/smear anything
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:11 PM   #594
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Um, no.

Any track at all + a duplicate with the Phase button on = null. No surprise there, since you're adding a signal to its inverse.

Yep's example was Track --> Drastic EQ --> Opposite EQ - there's no second track or phase-flipping involved. By turning the track's FX bypass on/off, you should hear an audible difference.
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:31 PM   #595
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I'm pretty sure nerdfactormax made an untouched, phase inverted track to show that if it "nulled" there really is no phase smear on the original track.

If there was phase smearing with the original track, you would hear artifacts that weren't canceled out when the dry track was inverted.

His example may have nulled because he may have used the same EQ plug, which would most likely have the same exact method of raising frequencies as it does lowering, which cancels out any "phase smear."

I'm sure if two seperate EQ plugs were used, the different algorithms in the way the code was written would introduce some phase smear.

But then again, I could be wrong. I'm way past tired.
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:20 AM   #596
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I'd just like to pile in and say "gee, I wish Reaper had an adjustable high-pass switch on the TCP", like a console.

Carry on...
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:53 AM   #597
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Oh, I understand now - I missed that nerdfactormax was phase-flipping the DRY track. Sorry.

Having just tried Yep's approach - two ReaEQs, a bunch of 0.2 wide bands boosted/cut by 20 db, and then the exact opposite - I have to say I'm not hearing anything. A dry copy nulls perfectly, so... hmm.

Consider me confused.
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:55 AM   #598
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Oh, I understand now - I missed that nerdfactormax was phase-flipping the DRY track. Sorry.

Having just tried Yep's approach - two ReaEQs, a bunch of 0.2 wide bands boosted/cut by 20 db, and then the exact opposite - I have to say I'm not hearing anything. A dry copy nulls perfectly, so... hmm.

Consider me confused.
Ehrmm... maybe ReaEQ is implemented phase-neutral (linear phase)?
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Old 05-07-2009, 11:52 AM   #599
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Ehrmm... maybe ReaEQ is implemented phase-neutral (linear phase)?
No, I suspect I made a mistake by suggesting a test I've never actually tried, and that nerdfactormax's first guess was correct-- that the phase distortions from one digital eq neutralize exact opposite phase cancellations from a previous instance of opposite eq. My bad!

I'll try to think of a better test and update later.
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Old 05-08-2009, 12:05 AM   #600
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Quote:
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I'll try to think of a better test and update later.
Just a guess: Use one EQ to cut and the same settings (freq and Q) on a different EQ (with different alogorithm) to boost.
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