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General Discussions => Studio A => Topic started by: 80hinhiding on April 16, 2018, 05:13:49 PM

Title: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 16, 2018, 05:13:49 PM
I realized today that (I think) the reason I'm not overly fond of straight to digital from preamp sound is it has more detail than my ear/brain/chest wants to have... seems like the high frequencies get too much too quick.. "edgy."

Other than using a plugin, or the real thing, are there any EQ/compression techniques you guys use to calm your mixes and build an energy in the "midtones"?

I was experimenting today and taking out 360Hz, some 12Khz, and a lot of subtractive EQ/compression and it seems to produce a more calm body... like tape.  Still not like the real thing but I found this interesting.. so I need less detail to satisfy my tastes perhaps.

Kind of like a painter who uses a small range of value shifts but gives the illusion of more depth than is there.  I don't want mixes that are squashed completely or anything but there you go..

Any tips would be appreciated.

Adam
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: john12ax7 on April 16, 2018, 06:38:54 PM
What outboard do you have? For me I've found digital and ITB to be more satisfying the more time you spend getting the tones right on the way in.

Lots of gear has a sound  just running through it,  when even not EQing or compressing. I've spent a decent amount of time just listening and auditioning gear,  then setup different signal chains for tracking, vocal chain,  guitar chain,  etc.  A way to do this is record dry and then use hardware inserts to audition gear. If it improves the sound then it becomes part of the record chain.

Also consider ribbon mics,  they can give you that warm pleasing mid-range.

On the back end for mixing again having some cool colorful gear can help, both on the mix bus and / or have a colorful sunning box.  The passive summers can be cool since you can use different pres to shape the sound.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 16, 2018, 08:26:00 PM
I've got some nice outboard, variety of eq and compressors and I'm building a mixing console that has a variety of amps inside.. old school Neve, meets SSL.. I'll be able to go all one or the other, or a combination of them.

I found using a Pultec style eq adding and subtracting at the same time a bit of a low end bump, along with committing to some pretty heavy handed subtractive eq on the way in the box gave more a sense of girth/less edge.

I was probably thinking about digital the wrong way... since the conversion from tape is pretty accurate, the conversion from preamp must be accurate too... but whatever goes on inside a tape machine and when it hits the tape there's a forgiving property to it... I can turn it up more easily on playback and it deals with peaks gently.  I don't know why but each track just seems to be more separate in the stereo space automatically... so I view the tape and the machine as this very musical interpreter.

It must subtract, but also add ... in a smart musical way.  Tape sounds clearer and louder on a mixdown when played back in my car, without having to do much work on processing.

So yeah, I've started to experiment with creating this effect without the tape to learn, and also so that I know I don't have to rely on a venue or station to have a tape machine handy in order for me to sound the same live.  I don't know if that sounds like a strange concern but for me I want to make sure the record can be done live with a very similar tone.  I know performance is the key to that, but I'm talking about the overall depth/body thickness of a sound... that weird separation, energy thing of tape.

Certain circuits and transformers driven a certain way do some of this stuff.. but yeah.. it doesn't matter if it's a 7 1/2 or 15 ips speed, a good or back deck there always seems to be a energy to it... not that I'd pick a consumer 7 1/2 deck for everything.. I think it just made me realize maybe it's what it takes away/compresses and then somehow adds back?  I record at 15ips when using tape.

When it comes to no tape.. subtracting seemed to help a lot .. parallel compression seems effective too.. to increase the energy/resonance.

A
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: abbey road d enfer on April 16, 2018, 08:49:49 PM
Other than using a plugin, or the real thing, are there any EQ/compression techniques you guys use to calm your mixes and build an energy in the "midtones"?
Most tracks need some kind of dynamic control; it could be organic, like a singer with professional technique, a good sensitive guitar or bass player, it could be intrinsic, some instruments have actually a limited dynamic range (particularly winds), it could be the result of using a dedicated compressor or plug-in. The nice thing is that a compressor allows controlling the dynamics of a track that does not have this organic/natural control. Don't hesitate to use compression if you feel there's a need.
Same for EQ; many instruments/voices leave something to be desired, like nasality or unwanted resonances or parasitic noise; these need to be addressed soon in the recording process, not necessarily at the time of tracking, but as soon as the mix takes form, i.e. when you set up a monitoring balance. There is nothing more frustrating than listening to an ugly track when doing overdubs; bad for your ears and bad for your rep. Tone-shaping EQ can be refined later. Indeed, good EQ practice stars with boosting and sweeping for identification of the offensive frequencies, then cutting them as needed.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: ruairioflaherty on April 17, 2018, 01:56:23 AM
We could just argue about Mac vs PC instead?  :)

This is a huge topic but you are off to a great start because you are getting sounds that you like from your tape machine, unlike most people who are chasing some mythical idealized tone.

It's worth spending some time trying to understand some of the mechanisms that are at play in your tape machine path, off the top of my head...

a) Does it have input or output transformers? If yes these will likely be doing what transformers do (coloration, low end distortion and fatness, depending on quality you may be losing some high end)

b) Frequency response - Depending on how you have your machine calibrated or not you may not have a perfectly flat frequency response, and this is not always a bad thing.

c) Head bump - affects the low end response, often in a pleasing way, depends on tape speed too.

d) Dynamic properties - depending on recording levels you will be getting some dynamic compression, that will vary with frequency.

e) High frequency softening / limiting - tape has a way of eating up fast high frequency transients that can be very pleasing and forgiving.

f) Noise - A dirty word in audio but can often be our friend in making things feel good.

g) Harmonic distortion - regardless of level you will have higher levels of distortion in your tape machine than a modern digital recorder, and likely lower order than that which you'll find in your digital world.

h) Tape formulation - can have a significant impact on how the machine sounds.


So, if I wanted to emulate your machine...

a) Does it have transformers?  If so, get a transformer or two into your digital record path.

b) Can you measure the frequency response of your tape machine with a sweep? If so easy to match with a good eq.  Even recording pink noise from your DAW onto tape and back into DAW will give you an approximation with FFT and averaging.

c)  Head Bump - see b)

d) Compression - low ratio compression with fast attack, medium release, barely working on your signal (will not be very accurate but better than nothing).

e) High Frequency Limiting - hard to do well in digital but work with low ratio de-essers and HF limiters (with soft ish knee).  My favorite in the analog world is the Maselec MDS2 but it's not cheap, does a great job of softening things in a pleasing way.

f) Noise - it would be fun to record the noise from your machine and then match it's profile and level using a signal generator and EQ, mix into your digital recordings.

g) Distortion - You'll want a distortion plug in that gives you some control over the harmonic content, I've used SDRR by Klanghelm and it gives good control over odd / even and low / high order distortion (cheap too).

h) Tape formulation - above my pay grade :)


I would be a really interesting exercise to split signals from your mic pre and record to tape and digital at the same time, allowing comparison after the fact.   You are very much on track with the idea that it's not what digital is losing but rather what tape is adding.

Last thought - what converters are you using and are you recording at lower levels?  If not you should be, don't peak above -10 dBFS.


Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: ruairioflaherty on April 17, 2018, 02:23:24 AM
Indeed, good EQ practice stars with boosting and sweeping for identification of the offensive frequencies, then cutting them as needed.

I'm all for removing the nasty stuff but I don't think this approach is good advice, despite the fact that it is ubiquitous and Sound on Sound seem to built their entire magazine on it!  Boosting any frequency by 6 to 10dB and sweeping around will cause a temporary shift in your hearing that is not at all desirable and IME throws off any ability to make nuanced decisions.  It reminds me of how detrimental in can be spending too much (any?) time with instruments solo'd when mixing.

I suggest that a beginner  should try to identify the frequency by guessing as closely as you can and doing a cut with a low ish Q (say 1), listen for 10 seconds, does it feel/sound better?  If not try dropping your frequency, or raising it some until you get where you need to go.

Now that I work in a room that is essentially perfect with gear that is beyond anything I could need I am by far the biggest variable and weak link.  With that in mind I try to work at consistent levels, take regular breaks, not sweep around EQs, not listen to de-esser side chains etc etc. 
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: tony hunt on April 17, 2018, 03:53:24 AM
Butting in to say thanks for the above advice about not sweeping around in extremes.

For me the analogy is out walking the dog in the dark; the eyes adjust to the low light. Then a jogger comes along with a bright LED strapped to his head and it then takes about 15 minutes or more for the eyes to adjust to the dark again.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: ruairioflaherty on April 17, 2018, 04:04:23 AM
You are welcome Tony. Of course I still find myself doing it from time to time and these days if I have to hunt a high Q resonance I will turn the speakers down as far as possible.

Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: abbey road d enfer on April 17, 2018, 08:05:21 AM
I'm all for removing the nasty stuff but I don't think this approach is good advice, despite the fact that it is ubiquitous and Sound on Sound seem to built their entire magazine on it! 
I use this method from the day I experimented with a variable-frequency EQ (actually an attempt at a wah pedal), and nobody told me how to do it; it just made sense to me, and it has worked so far.

Quote
Boosting any frequency by 6 to 10dB and sweeping around will cause a temporary shift in your hearing that is not at all desirable and IME throws off any ability to make nuanced decisions. 
I'm not subject to that neuronic effect; if I knew it existed, I wouldn't have suggested this method (or caveat'ed it). 

Quote
I suggest that a beginner  should try to identify the frequency by guessing as closely as you can and doing a cut with a low ish Q (say 1), listen for 10 seconds, does it feel/sound better?  If not try dropping your frequency, or raising it some until you get where you need to go.
This is a typical trial/error process, that in fact many beginners adopt because they don't know better. In order to make this method half effective, one has to have a good ear training, at identifying frequencies, which most beginners don't. Actually, I think this method is adequate for tone-shaping, but unsuited at eliminating nasty drum resonances (which is what I need to EQ out the most) or vocal nasalities.

Quote
Now that I work in a room that is essentially perfect with gear that is beyond anything I could need I am by far the biggest variable and weak link.
This kind of wisdom comes only with time and experience. Before reaching that stage, one needs to learn; there is not one unique method of learning, but most of the times, a faster way to learn comes from having some kind of tutoring, with techniques, tricks and  rules (that are meant to be broken only after they have proved being too restrictive).

Quote
not sweep around EQs, not listen to de-esser side chains etc etc.
I'm glad you have found a methodology that suits you, but I would not recommend to a beginner.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 17, 2018, 08:19:07 AM
Yeah I can't see wanting to listen to tracks in isolation with a solo feature, very often if at all.

I've tried the boost and sweep, then cut.  It was fun but in the end I always seem to dial everything back and nudge back close to where it started.  I think it depends on the creative stage and what you're doing though... with regards to how aggressive you can get..  if it's an effect on a parallel track for a guitar then I might go nuts on it.

I'm still in demo/writing/rough mix mode but getting solid results.  Trying to avoid demoitis with the songs and build a well balanced sound that isn't edgy.  I need to learn which frequency areas need to be rolled off gently or boosted gently, etc... where to blur the edges and where to leave them.. if I can use another painting analogy.  I like to paint too :)  Solid form that can be turned up without bothering the ears.. able to be relaxed to.  I think you guys know what I'm talking about.. given the talent and experience around here.

I'm pretty good at controlling my dynamics when I play/sing, whatever instrument I'm on.. but there's still work that needs to be done on them, especially when I'm not using tape.. to my ear anyway.

Hopefully this doesn't come across as bragging, but I had more positive reaction from a mix I did myself from a song I did entirely myself, with one crappy mic and a computer soundcard at 16 bit.... a year after being to a big studio with 2 dedicated engineers working on my stuff in great rooms and great equipment.  Does that mean they weren't good engineers.. no.  My songs weren't where I wanted/needed them to be, but I didn't know squat about the gear, or tone, or have the time in the big studio to pan for gold.  When I'm isolated and alone working on stuff I feel more safe to just make something, and experiment... the song/mix I had a good reaction to didn't really have a proper production standard.. which I aimed to figure out.

I've learned a ton in the past few years about all this stuff, but still much more to learn.

Thanks guys for the tips.

Adam
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: ruairioflaherty on April 17, 2018, 10:08:11 AM
I use this method from the day I experimented with a variable-frequency EQ (actually an attempt at a wah pedal), and nobody told me how to do it; it just made sense to me, and it has worked so far.
 I'm not subject to that neuronic effect; if I knew it existed, I wouldn't have suggested this method (or caveat'ed it). 
 This is a typical trial/error process, that in fact many beginners adopt because they don't know better. In order to make this method half effective, one has to have a good ear training, at identifying frequencies, which most beginners don't. Actually, I think this method is adequate for tone-shaping, but unsuited at eliminating nasty drum resonances (which is what I need to EQ out the most) or vocal nasalities.
 This kind of wisdom comes only with time and experience. Before reaching that stage, one needs to learn; there is not one unique method of learning, but most of the times, a faster way to learn comes from having some kind of tutoring, with techniques, tricks and  rules (that are meant to be broken only after they have proved being too restrictive).
 I'm glad you have found a methodology that suits you, but I would not recommend to a beginner.

All fair points Abbey and I understand that it works for you.  Perhaps there is a third way where beginners can separate their learning (sweeping, side chain listening etc) from their actual mixing work.

As a mastering engineer I get mixes from people at every level.  I can't count the number of times I have seen a musician get into recording and their first completely unschooled efforts are excellent. Then for years, the more they learn the worse things get and the further they get from being musical and into tweaky things like we discussed above.  Some come out the other side and manage to combine musicality with some technical chops, many don't.

Watching the very best working it is very much a feel based exercise, much less beating it into submission and more working with what's good about the audio.  I feel this perspective is missing in online discussions about audio.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: scott2000 on April 17, 2018, 11:53:45 AM

Watching the very best working it is very much a feel based exercise, much less beating it into submission and more working with what's good about the audio.  I feel this perspective is missing in online discussions about audio.

Thanks for sharing!

 I actually came across the EQ technique you mentioned of not using seek and destroy and, prior to that, after years of basically learning how to learn more , it resonated with me in a profound way when I happened across it in some obscure article or something.

Echoing abbey somewhat.... I wonder if it would've made as much sense to me foregoing the spinning my wheels for so long . Maybe.... I'll never know . I do know to me it makes total sense now and am appreciative when something is mentioned that feels like putting a name to the face in some aspects.... It just feels right.....If that makes sense.....
All is not lost in my quest for certain knowledge but, if nothing else, it's helped me fine tune my radar to some of the more obscure information that I consider invaluable....

Exciting stuff!
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 17, 2018, 02:08:19 PM
We could just argue about Mac vs PC instead?  :)

This is a huge topic but you are off to a great start because you are getting sounds that you like from your tape machine, unlike most people who are chasing some mythical idealized tone.

It's worth spending some time trying to understand some of the mechanisms that are at play in your tape machine path, off the top of my head...

a) Does it have input or output transformers? If yes these will likely be doing what transformers do (coloration, low end distortion and fatness, depending on quality you may be losing some high end)

b) Frequency response - Depending on how you have your machine calibrated or not you may not have a perfectly flat frequency response, and this is not always a bad thing.

c) Head bump - affects the low end response, often in a pleasing way, depends on tape speed too.

d) Dynamic properties - depending on recording levels you will be getting some dynamic compression, that will vary with frequency.

e) High frequency softening / limiting - tape has a way of eating up fast high frequency transients that can be very pleasing and forgiving.

f) Noise - A dirty word in audio but can often be our friend in making things feel good.

g) Harmonic distortion - regardless of level you will have higher levels of distortion in your tape machine than a modern digital recorder, and likely lower order than that which you'll find in your digital world.

h) Tape formulation - can have a significant impact on how the machine sounds.


So, if I wanted to emulate your machine...

a) Does it have transformers?  If so, get a transformer or two into your digital record path.

b) Can you measure the frequency response of your tape machine with a sweep? If so easy to match with a good eq.  Even recording pink noise from your DAW onto tape and back into DAW will give you an approximation with FFT and averaging.

c)  Head Bump - see b)

d) Compression - low ratio compression with fast attack, medium release, barely working on your signal (will not be very accurate but better than nothing).

e) High Frequency Limiting - hard to do well in digital but work with low ratio de-essers and HF limiters (with soft ish knee).  My favorite in the analog world is the Maselec MDS2 but it's not cheap, does a great job of softening things in a pleasing way.

f) Noise - it would be fun to record the noise from your machine and then match it's profile and level using a signal generator and EQ, mix into your digital recordings.

g) Distortion - You'll want a distortion plug in that gives you some control over the harmonic content, I've used SDRR by Klanghelm and it gives good control over odd / even and low / high order distortion (cheap too).

h) Tape formulation - above my pay grade :)


I would be a really interesting exercise to split signals from your mic pre and record to tape and digital at the same time, allowing comparison after the fact.   You are very much on track with the idea that it's not what digital is losing but rather what tape is adding.

Last thought - what converters are you using and are you recording at lower levels?  If not you should be, don't peak above -10 dBFS.

I somehow missed this post.  I'm glad you broke it down like this as I've identified a lot of this but it's nice to see it in writing from someone else, and expanded on.  I recently did a split signal test after I made a routing box to make my life using the tape machine easier.. I have a rotary switch where I can pick where the signal goes to on the tape machine.  The routing box I made has 4 balanced in, 12 balanced out options.. which make tracking easier for me (I don't have to take off my instrument as much or get down under the machine), and this box opened the possibility to do a direct comparison to straight digital as well.. I realized after.

My main aim is to keep the musicality, and so far I'm achieving that... without making things too complex on a technical level.  I understand it's not the norm to pull this all off independently.. but hopefully things work out and I'll get to collaborate in near future with some good people.

I'm using the converters in the Zed R16.  Coming into the computer at about -18 average, with about -10 peaks.  Edit: well depends.. if it's individual tracks I let it come in higher than an average of -18db, probably more like -12.

Even using transformers and other outboard and eq there's something I can't capture without tape.. I think I'm going to just simplify this and forget the comparisons for now and just get tracking to the tape machine... convert and bring the multitrack in the computer, do some editing if I need it.. then mix to my DIY console that is still in development.

I like your idea of recording the noise and trying to integrate that in the digital environment for straight to digital situations.

I was testing the bass roll off and presence boost on the SM7B mic this morning until I stopped myself and said, this isn't getting the record done.. 

Aiming to keep it simple and will definitely want to get this thing mastered by someone other than me.  Not as a fix, but as the last step to have another set of ears on it and adjust it, get it ready for the real world.  I don't want it to be part of the loudness wars at all..

I kind of fall within the indie/old school/jazzy/easy listening rock/soft hearted/progressive sound.  If I write something that sounds like it'd be a pop song I put it in the bin. haha   I just want interesting music that will not get annoying quickly.. to me.
  I like world/adventure/watching the ocean move type stuff I guess.

A
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: Matt C on April 18, 2018, 10:21:45 AM
it's already been mentioned, but +1 for keeping levels very conservative on the way into the computer. In my experience things start to sound really gross really fast if the levels get too high.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 18, 2018, 10:46:59 AM
it's already been mentioned, but +1 for keeping levels very conservative on the way into the computer. In my experience things start to sound really gross really fast if the levels get too high.

Agreed, and I am very conscious of that.   Straight to digital especially conscious of it.

I'm having a bit of an issue maintaining average level at the moment (so I'm kind of the opposite of too loud), especially if I use the G Bus Compressor clone I have on a mix, because I only have unbalanced inserts at the moment.. and if I don't want to pump a lot of make up gain in, or hit any gear hard all around, I end up with a quiet average level.. so there would be all kinds of room to work with there for a mastering engineer... as long as the noise floor isn't too much.  They probably have a few eq and limiting tricks where this is a non issue anyway.. but I'm aiming to do my best.

With tape, I can have a higher level and need to have a higher level because of the preamp and machine hiss/noise.. I need to get above that enough so that when I put the mixer fader at a spot where it sits right that you can't really hear the hiss.  This is a concern for me when it comes to having it mastered.  I don't want a noise free recording, but I don't want quiet moments where the arrangement gets sparse to be blatantly hiss filled.  Noise reduction units I've seen are unbalanced, and fortunately I have balanced inputs and outputs on the tape machine so I'd rather use those balanced connections... but it might be worthwhile to try a noise reduction system, I just don't want to kill the nice sound I'm hearing from it now without.

Adam
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: abbey road d enfer on April 18, 2018, 12:43:09 PM
it's already been mentioned, but +1 for keeping levels very conservative on the way into the computer. In my experience things start to sound really gross really fast if the levels get too high.
This subject has been debated to death. Almost inevitably, it turns out the reason is the analog parts of the signal path have not been designed for operation at the elevated levels that make the )digital meters move. -12dBfs (considered as a conservative digital operating level) corresponds to an analog level of +6 to +12 dBu, which is hot for most analog equipment (preamps, EQ's, compressors...). Only a fraction of currently developped analog equipment is ready for operating at such levels.
There is nothing wrong with operating close to 100%fs in the digital domain, on the contrary (numbers do not distort), but the analog path must be ready to handle it.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: desol on April 18, 2018, 02:11:03 PM
Hopefully this doesn't come across as bragging, but I had more positive reaction from a mix I did myself from a song I did entirely myself, with one crappy mic and a computer soundcard at 16 bit.... a year after being to a big studio with 2 dedicated engineers working on my stuff in great rooms and great equipment.  Does that mean they weren't good engineers.. no.  My songs weren't where I wanted/needed them to be, but I didn't know squat about the gear, or tone, or have the time in the big studio to pan for gold.  When I'm isolated and alone working on stuff I fel more safe to just make something, and experiment... the song/mix I had a good reaction to didn't really have a proper production standard.. which I aimed to figure out.

This is because, I'm guessing, it was tracked with more emotion and the(unaltered) recording came across as more genuine. This will 'always' have a greater impact over what mic into what preamp into what compressor, etc...to elicit a more favorable response from others that are listening. Also, were the songs the same or was the second song a better song? Important variables...

Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 18, 2018, 09:01:12 PM
This is because, I'm guessing, it was tracked with more emotion and the(unaltered) recording came across as more genuine. This will 'always' have a greater impact over what mic into what preamp into what compressor, etc...to elicit a more favorable response from others that are listening. Also, were the songs the same or was the second song a better song? Important variables...

You're right, it was both.  I felt freer, and just had fun improvising.. plus it was different material that started leaning toward really finding my voice.  I took a long hiatus after that though and a few years ago started writing again.. with ideas of what kind of album I might want to buy and put on, but it turns out thinking doesn't really work out... the more I just let stuff happen, the more my thing happens.. whatever that is.  Feels good.

I'm going to embrace my digital recorder more instead of thinking of it as losing something.. it isn't hurting me or the music.  I still have an appreciation for the tones and overtones of certain equipment.. that won't change but when it comes to tracking and writing.. the feel does seem to rise above it.

Cheers

A
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 20, 2018, 06:29:08 PM
I have been tracking straight to digital the past couple days and have formed a new workflow that is allowing some fun stuff to happen musically.  I even setup the MIDI controller on the Zed R16 to facilitate the process operating the transport and record/add track functions. 

I'm actually digging it, this digital thing.  I'm now hybrid for sure.  I experimented hitting the tape machine with significant level after my straight to digital track, for specific tracks and can use it like another piece of outboard processing.

I am definitely finding pros to using my computer for the multitrack.  I feel it's expanding my composing strengths.. being able to get things a bit tighter, a bit quicker and then experiment on top of that in near real time.  Signal strength is good, clarity is there, not much noise unless I choose to put it there, etc.

I hope I can finish my own console soon to integrate that in the process.  It'll be fun to come out of the computer and do some sub mixes and full mixes through it.  Always feels like so much to do, with so little time, but I'm getting there.

Just thought I'd drop by to share this with you guys.   Do I still love film, tape and everything analog. Yes.  Do I dislike digital. No.  Progress. :)

Cheers

Adam

Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: john12ax7 on April 20, 2018, 07:11:04 PM
Getting away from using a mouse and staring at a computer screen can certainly be a big help. Pushing actual faders is nice.  And there is something very satisfying with a dedicated transport.  Have always thought nice big lighted buttons like on a Studer would be a great DIY project to control the DAW.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: alexc on April 22, 2018, 04:45:44 AM
Most tracks need some kind of dynamic control; it could be organic, like a singer with professional technique, a good sensitive guitar or bass player, it could be intrinsic, some instruments have actually a limited dynamic range (particularly winds), it could be the result of using a dedicated compressor or plug-in. The nice thing is that a compressor allows controlling the dynamics of a track that does not have this organic/natural control. Don't hesitate to use compression if you feel there's a need.
Same for EQ; many instruments/voices leave something to be desired, like nasality or unwanted resonances or parasitic noise; these need to be addressed soon in the recording process, not necessarily at the time of tracking, but as soon as the mix takes form, i.e. when you set up a monitoring balance. There is nothing more frustrating than listening to an ugly track when doing overdubs; bad for your ears and bad for your rep. Tone-shaping EQ can be refined later. Indeed, good EQ practice stars with boosting and sweeping for identification of the offensive frequencies, then cutting them as needed.

Right on!
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: fazer on April 23, 2018, 11:03:27 AM
This thread is a great collection of thoughts on mixing with technique supporting different ways of going after it.  Should be turned into a chapter in a book.  It all rings true to me.  I love the painting analogy thrown in as well. 
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 29, 2018, 05:12:55 PM
I think I spoke too soon professing a newfound appreciation of straight to digital workflow.  I spent the past week full-time in tracking/writing/arranging/editing mode and what I do like in this phase with the computer is the ability to make quick loops of spontaneous ideas, then sort of jam with myself to see what I can come up with.

However, I'm still running into the issue of the straight to digital signal not being as easy to jive with just on the whole.. it doesn't feel right when composing over it.  I wish I could explain it and understand it too..

Just minutes ago I used a signal splitter to capture the same performance straight to digital, and to tape then to digital at the same time.  After that I applied some Pultec EQ to the straight to digital signal, and a Tube line amp which gets it in the ballpark of the feel.. but not really.

It's actually a difference between composing a positive arrangement, and a negative one.  My songs were sounding depressed and sort of void of energy after this week in my opinion... the ideas are there, they're pretty tight little songs, and many might say dude, you're overthinking it... but this really bugs the **** out of me.  The digital stuff actually bugs me hearing it on the car radio.. falls flat as a pancake (and has odd edges at the same time)... I mix mainly in mono at this stage concentrating on a solid rhythm section so it's not a matter of me having the mixes/songs over complicated or panned too much.

I've heard demos of tape emulation plugins online and tried a couple myself and they didn't really get it there either.  I tried a 1176 gently catching peaks, followed by a Pultec just for the harmonic content if nothing else and still, it's not right. 

I can tell when I overdub with tape that my instrument is literally easier to play... in my case anyway.  The ideas that come tend to synchronise to the energy of the take I'm overdubbing to and it just feels right.

If I examine a wave of straight to digital vs one that hit tape already they're different.  Things feel like they poke out the wrong way in digital..... does anyone know the solution to this??

I recorded some noise off the tape machine and added that as a layer for the straight to digital stuff and that helped a bit but it still wasn't right.  I checked phase, and flipped it.. still didn't work.

As I mentioned it's a concern for me that you can't perform live now and rely on a station to have tape.  I'm actually to the point where I might turn the computer off completely and just do this as a passion project and not release it.  Matching tone and vibe is very important to me and if that can't be done without tape I guess I'm gonna pack it in.

Adam
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: scott2000 on April 29, 2018, 06:33:08 PM
Maybe a different AD??
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: ruairioflaherty on April 29, 2018, 06:42:38 PM
As I mentioned it's a concern for me that you can't perform live now and rely on a station to have tape.  I'm actually to the point where I might turn the computer off completely and just do this as a passion project and not release it.  Matching tone and vibe is very important to me and if that can't be done without tape I guess I'm gonna pack it in.

Adam,

I'm going to be straight with you and I say this as someone who has devoted my entire adult life to audio quality.  If the difference between analog and digital capture of music is distressing enough for you to throw in the towel then absolutely you should give up now.  If what you have to say musically can't get over that hump, then it won't be a loss to the world.

The music industry is brutal.  Not challenging, not tough…..brutal.  Getting a record out, and getting anyone to care is a massive undertaking. 

If the difference between and analog and a digital capture is the make or break factor for a hypothetical radio session then you are lost.  Great songs were and are compelling enough for  scratchy 7 " vinyl, AM radio, 128k MP3 and iPhone speakers….surely yours can transcend too?

When I think of bands devoted to exploring new sonic landscapes like Pink Floyd, Radiohead or The Beatles they aimed really really high but in the end they met their audience in the real world and rose to the technical challenge of the time (track limits / tape noise / bad digital … whatever).

From my perspective you are mixing up two things - your music (what you have to say and who you are) and how it is captured. If you care about your music you may want to consider handing over the task of capturing it to someone truly talented in that field. 

It's good to care about the sound, it's bad to care more about the sound than the music.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 29, 2018, 07:58:38 PM
Adam,

I'm going to be straight with you and I say this as someone who has devoted my entire adult life to audio quality.  If the difference between analog and digital capture of music is distressing enough for you to throw in the towel then absolutely you should give up now.  If what you have to say musically can't get over that hump, then it won't be a loss to the world.

The music industry is brutal.  Not challenging, not tough…..brutal.  Getting a record out, and getting anyone to care is a massive undertaking. 

If the difference between and analog and a digital capture is the make or break factor for a hypothetical radio session then you are lost.  Great songs were and are compelling enough for  scratchy 7 " vinyl, AM radio, 128k MP3 and iPhone speakers….surely yours can transcend too?

When I think of bands devoted to exploring new sonic landscapes like Pink Floyd, Radiohead or The Beatles they aimed really really high but in the end they met their audience in the real world and rose to the technical challenge of the time (track limits / tape noise / bad digital … whatever).

From my perspective you are mixing up two things - your music (what you have to say and who you are) and how it is captured. If you care about your music you may want to consider handing over the task of capturing it to someone truly talented in that field. 

It's good to care about the sound, it's bad to care more about the sound than the music.

Ruairi,

I have music on the radio, and I'm talented as an engineer too.  What's the deal man?   

I'm talking about something larger than myself and whether or not my music will be a loss to the world.  I find your post insulting.

There's a track out there now that has a hook something like, "Rebel just for kicks, since 1966" something like that .  Not exactly my thing but it's pretty catchy.  Instead of wanting to turn it up I want to turn it down.  So there's that issue overall.. digital stuff is harsh for some reason... and there are many professionals churning it out.

I'm talking about an overdubbing situation primarily.  There is an issue with digital as a whole in my opinion, and the sound of music for the past couple decades really shows it.

ps. I've really turned a corner with my songwriting/engineering ... music is the utmost importance to me.  Not sound, not your resume.  Music. 

pps. How the heck do you know how talented I am at capturing the music anyway?  Pretty  big assumptions..

Adam
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: scott2000 on April 29, 2018, 08:10:30 PM
That is Some good advice from ruari albeit a bit brutal..........

I'm certain you misread his intentions and he may have misinterpreted your thought.....but I've been wrong before.....
BTW.....
If you are happy with the tape performance, shouldn't someone be able to get that "digitized" for you that may have what you are after? You really should be able to get very close (not what you are describing) to a transfer of what you have and, if that is what is holding you back, you need to make the decision to learn  more of what it may take to get what you are hearing that you like into the computer without it depressing you too much or let someone else handle it for you. 

I wouldn't look at it as a negative thing that you are hearing some things that really shouldn't affect a great creative process or performance, but they aren't most likely imaginary..  You just have to make the decision where you want your skill set to grow. It's sad to think of the world missing out on some great art because of the want to handle all aspects of the process at one time before any submission but, I get it.

I think you would really appreciate what some guys out there could do for your path to sonic satisfaction if you think you are happy with your performances.

But then what////////// is the  elephant in the room....... sometimes......


Edit/// I guess I misunderstood what your thoughts were..... It sounds like you are happy with your transfer to digital from the tape machine so, this is good. 
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: ruairioflaherty on April 29, 2018, 08:16:46 PM
I have music on the radio, and I'm talented as an engineer too.  What's the deal man?   

I'm talking about something larger than myself and whether or not my music will be a loss to the world.  I find your post insulting.

My intent was not to insult, it was a call to action.  If your music is good, and you really believe it is then statements like...

Quote
Matching tone and vibe is very important to me and if that can't be done without tape I guess I'm gonna pack it in.

… are massively self indulgent. 

I'm really glad that you believe that music is the most important thing.  It is.

You have two options as I see it

- Record great music on tape and treat promo and live as a completely different world and set of trade offs

By this I mean that live and on radio promo sessions you will lose pure sonic quality but you will also gain an immediacy, and connection with an audience that you don't have in recorded work.  In each realm you can play to the respective strengths of the format.

- Figure out digital recording

There are incredible sounding records being made on digital formats.  It's possible.  It's not always easy but it is possible.

Good converters do make a real difference for the last few %, how you gain, dithering properly etc etc.  It's a million small things that make the difference.  But it won't be ever be tape, if you want tape you'll need to use tape.


I'm taking the time to write now just like my previous long posts in the thread, to help you, not to discourage you or blow my own horn.  I'm an average tracking and mixing engineer at best.

Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 29, 2018, 08:55:04 PM
Thanks Ruairi,

It's easy to get caught up in the traps of thinking you need this or that to make great music.. I think I probably miscommunicated my frustration.  I'm actually of two minds about it .. but definitely know arrangement and performance rule the day.

There's a certain energy/beauty/resonance to particular sounds and they have a direct impact on overdubbing in my experience.. so anything that affects how much I feel a track just fascinates me as much as it does frustrate me.. at times.  This was one of those days I should have taken the day off.. but I did learn a couple things and get a couple more ideas.

When it comes to live radio/promo I think you're right... it's better to just treat it differently.. or bring along a two track machine ha to mix down to before the converters.. not exactly practical.

Maybe I should try out a new AD/DA sometime and see what I think.  And.. I can also force myself to forget about these things and get back to work on the music. :)

Cheers,

A
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: abbey road d enfer on April 29, 2018, 10:47:02 PM
There's a track out there now that has a hook something like, "Rebel just for kicks, since 1966" something like that .  Not exactly my thing but it's pretty catchy.  Instead of wanting to turn it up I want to turn it down.  So there's that issue overall.. digital stuff is harsh for some reason... and there are many professionals churning it out.
I believe what makes you cringe is not a hypothetic "digital sound"; I'd rather think it's the result of the so-called "loudness war", which, indeed has criticizable subjective and objective hatable issues.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: DerEber on April 30, 2018, 02:31:24 AM
Before you spend any high amount of money on AD it would be cool If you could share any sound samples.
The Zed 16 is the converter in the A&H desk?

Also make sure that high latency doesn't spoil your timing.
This will make very different impact on depending whats your music is like.
I wouldn't think about latency for most songwriter stuff.
But it could totally spoil timing recording a scratchtrack to a tricky beat.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 30, 2018, 06:11:34 AM
Before you spend any high amount of money on AD it would be cool If you could share any sound samples.
The Zed 16 is the converter in the A&H desk?

Also make sure that high latency doesn't spoil your timing.
This will make very different impact on depending whats your music is like.
I wouldn't think about latency for most songwriter stuff.
But it could totally spoil timing recording a scratchtrack to a tricky beat.

Thanks, yes it's the Zed R16 from A&H with its built in converters.

I thought I made it clear earlier that I did a split signal test and then brought both to the computer... then tried overdubbing tests.  It's not a latency issue unfortunately.

Also, I mentioned, which Ruairi seemed to miss is that the songs are coming out really good... it's just that the actual tone rigidity (perceived timing due to excess or lack of something - or some mystery) of the straight to digital actually impacts the parts that I compose.  Not a worse song , a song with a different tone/energy.. tone meaning the parts I design/arrange are likely impacted by the process/bed sounds (and the ease of playing along to the feel)..and does it (the end composition/performance) communicate positive energy or leave you feeling kind of cold.  I hear an overall more depressed tone to music these days in general... and I think this is part of the reason.  I also acknowledged that digital conversion doesn't seem to be losing information when it comes from the tape machine to the computer..maybe a little bit but not much.. so the converters seem to be doing an okay job.  I'm sure there are better converters out there having said that.. but just want to point out I'm not blaming converters here because of the split signal test that kind of confused me as to what it is that's bothering me about straight to digital from preamp.

It's a full band sound I have.  I play guitar, sing, bass, drums... : )

I think I might do at least one bed track to tape first then bring to computer to do overdubs to.

Sorry guys, I'm probably doing a bad job communicating the topic.

It's not a loudness thing I'm referring to either...though I don't like brutally loud stuff that's for sure.

All the best,
Adam
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: scott2000 on April 30, 2018, 08:42:38 AM

Also make sure that high latency doesn't spoil your timing.
This will make very different impact on depending whats your music is like.
I wouldn't think about latency for most songwriter stuff.
But it could totally spoil timing recording a scratchtrack to a tricky beat.

Can you expand on this a bit? Sounds interesting if I'm understanding what you are getting at..

And to 80......

To remind I'd also share that there are the million little things that Ruari pointed out in regards to successfully dealing with digital and mixing. All the  processes have certain costs I would say and, these all need to be taken into account in order to obtain and preserve as much of the sound you hear after all of the processing is finished. Digital isn't a free lunch but this is definitely outweighed by it's convenience imo. I also feel At the end of the day, a good ME can lift a lot of this weight from your shoulders by breathing some  things back into material  and then some so, if you can focus on that fact a bit, it can make it easier to let yourself go into the song creation while paying attention to reasonable constraints to avoid unnecessary processing that possibly may not be handled in the best way. To have a good ME to help is an invaluable thing and I highly recommend seeking out one who you can trust to share your work with if you haven't already.  More of them are dealing with stems too which really can help the process. Of course there are costs that have to be weighed but, a good ME is never a bad investment imo....
I really hope you can get past this without straying too far away from your creative potential. But, playing with sounds is fun so, it's all good really!

Good Luck!


Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on April 30, 2018, 12:26:18 PM
Can you expand on this a bit? Sounds interesting if I'm understanding what you are getting at..

And to 80......

To remind I'd also share that there are the million little things that Ruari pointed out in regards to successfully dealing with digital and mixing. All the  processes have certain costs I would say and, these all need to be taken into account in order to obtain and preserve as much of the sound you hear after all of the processing is finished. Digital isn't a free lunch but this is definitely outweighed by it's convenience imo. I also feel At the end of the day, a good ME can lift a lot of this weight from your shoulders by breathing some  things back into material  and then some so, if you can focus on that fact a bit, it can make it easier to let yourself go into the song creation while paying attention to reasonable constraints to avoid unnecessary processing that possibly may not be handled in the best way. To have a good ME to help is an invaluable thing and I highly recommend seeking out one who you can trust to share your work with if you haven't already.  More of them are dealing with stems too which really can help the process. Of course there are costs that have to be weighed but, a good ME is never a bad investment imo....
I really hope you can get past this without straying too far away from your creative potential. But, playing with sounds is fun so, it's all good really!

Good Luck!

Hey man,

I'm referring to tracking/overdubbing/writing process at the moment without much processing involved.  I probably should have just kept these concerns to myself.. as it's a very challenging topic to talk about.

This is going to sound bad, but I didn't really get any tips here about mixing that I didn't really already know.  The arrangement is the key, things will mix themselves almost.  I've had engineers work with me before, and I personally work better with more time and doing things myself.

I agree a mastering engineer is good to get involved but I'm talking about an earlier part of the creative process of arranging/overdubbing.  I'll find a way to get past this.

Adam
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: scott2000 on April 30, 2018, 12:38:50 PM
Awesome!


I know it bugs me when I swear I can hear a difference in a bounce even though I should be putting my trust in the null.....

Godspeed to you 8)
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: john12ax7 on April 30, 2018, 07:36:33 PM
One thing to figure out is if your issue with digital is the sound or if it's the workflow, or both. I know a lot would disagree with me,  but imo something simple like a cassette 4 track is a superior songwriting tool vs a DAW. It forces you into the mindset of really focusing on the song itself.

On the digital workflow side consider a dedicated hard disk recorder,  Radar,  Alesis HD24, Fostex D-824, etc.

On the sound side try out the RND 542 tape modules,  much better than tape plugins.

There is definitely a negative psychological aspect to a modern DAW setup.  Decision fatigue is a very real thing, exacerbated with too many options.

In the end maybe you still just prefer tape.  But is that really that bad? Just record and mix analog,  most of the great records were made that way.
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: abbey road d enfer on May 01, 2018, 10:24:59 AM
One thing to figure out is if your issue with digital is the sound or if it's the workflow, or both. I know a lot would disagree with me,  but imo something simple like a cassette 4 track is a superior songwriting tool vs a DAW. It forces you into the mindset of really focusing on the song itself.
Agreed, although this could go too far. I know some people who have permanently an Olympus recorder, so they can record any musical idea that's floating around. In the end, they have so much crap on tape that it's discouraging!
I think having to make a little effort is a filter that helps sorting out bad inspiration.
I use my cell phone for that purpose; when I wake up in the night with the most beautiful melody in my head, I need to really think, is it worth getting up, finding the damn cell, dialing the password, finding the app...
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: scott2000 on May 01, 2018, 10:33:16 AM
Even Flow???? :)

Thoughts arrive like butterflies
Oh, he don't know, so he chases them away

Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: 80hinhiding on May 03, 2018, 08:32:18 AM
So guys, I got back in the room last night and simplified.. just me, guitar, a room mic and one track rolling on the tape machine.  It felt a lot better.. and made me realize I just need to get back to playing improv for fun.. it's what I did before I thought about making a record way back, or a "great record."  Shakes head at self. 

Anyway.. before I knew it there was 12 minutes or so of music performance to listen to, and it feels good to let that happen..

I'm willing to roll with whatever is cool or not so cool about it and play off of that.  It's hard to get out of your own way sometimes but I had some good advice from a few people and really it boils down to taking it less serious and letting things happen, without distraction.

Thanks,

A
Title: Re: EQ/compression techniques
Post by: AviEinZur on July 27, 2018, 01:29:04 PM
A little bit late, but better than never :)
Im a recording and mixing engineer. As time goes by i get more and more stuff to mix that people created at home, or finished overdubs at home after recording elsewhere. Needless to say that most use very basic setups that creates a challenge when mixed- chinese mics, soundcard preamps, you name it.  add to that poor mic placement, and so.. harshness doesant always comes from 'digital sound'.  But there are some ways to diminished that.
I would suggest what others did- build yourself a tranfer chain that you are happy with. There are a lot of good analog gear these days that doesnt break the bank to buy. I would suggest a good quality preamp that goes to eq that goes to comp. That way you can control and warm things before capture.
Hardware Tape sim  is also to be considered. Then for conversion theres multiple options- from colory like Burl to a more natural like Symphony. I believe that with these tools you wont get an undesired harshness in your tracks. And any minor details can be treated in the digital domain afterwards.
As to that, earlier on this page i saw that someone wrote about frequency notch sweep as a method.
I do the same but the oposite- i use protools eq solo function, which is dimnishing other frequecies ranges beside the one that is soloed, and not notching for positive values during that process. That way you can adjust the finest details for the program materials as well as fx returns and sidechains through your tracking period without any unwanted frequecy/energy through that process.
I use plugins deessers, tape sim and summing sim alot to tame the highs the way i like them. Alot of time i put them first and starts playing through them, balance, and starts the mix process when every element is aligned and 'sounds right'. Its getting better every year and for a few years i feel that the gap is closing and its hard if not impossible to identify an ITB to a full analog mix. Its much more depends on the ears that makes the calls then to anything else.

Have a great weekend,
Avraham