Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Mixing and dynamics

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Mixing and dynamics

    A couple of recent pieces I have posted on the forum have been picked up as having some unwanted peaks in the mix. Now, I'm happy to accept any feedback like that as it contributes to me learning more about the art of sound. However, that has me thinking about how far to take a mix?

    The last track I put up one contributer wrote of "levels getting away from you". I went back to the original track, dug out the plugins and did a remix to tame the levels. Yes, that did help a lot and is something I would pay attention to in the future. What that remix also did was flatten out the sound and for me took away some of the dynamics of the piece.

    In jazz, writers often use notes outwith the key that is being played to create a bit of tension in a tune. Why then do we not use mixing to allow some levels to create a bit of discomfort in the listener? So much in life today has to be 'perfect'. Life is not perfect and never can be and, looking from my work in the psychological field, that is what causes so much of the mental health issues so many people experience today. People do not learn coping mechanisms being so used to everything being 'perfect'. Indeed Brian Eno has talked about celebrating your mistakes as that is how we all learn.

    Once again, I do not seek to question the critiques that have come my way but put this out for discussion. How far do we take a mix?
    Last edited by BassBus; 02-12-2018, 01:32 AM.
    Graham
    https://www.youtube.com/c/THEBassBus
    https://soundcloud.com/bassbus
    https://hearthis.at/graham-blanche-ov/

  • #2
    Since I made one of those critiques, I hope it's also cool to follow into this discussion.
    Assuming it's ok i"ll continue. The issue of post production as it applies here, is nothing more then having a clean smooth canvas to present your artistic work.
    Yes, it should be transparent. Just a platform to hold your work firmly without defect.

    There is a lot of theory behind all this, but you don't need to know but some of it to render a good track.
    If you want to preserve a wide range of dynamics I suggest recording at 24bits. I'll guess your already doing that.
    Now you end up with a track that may have very quiet sound as well as a few loud peaking sounds.
    This range of dynamics is not practical for general listening so some post production is required.

    The dynamic range(DR) will require some compression. You have two general choices;
    - Downwards Compression - the compressor reduces the amplitude of sound to some determined degree beginning "above a user set threshold".
    - Upwards Compression - the compressor increases the amplitude of sound that falls "below a user set threshold".

    Using both methods give you more artistic control then using just one method. It also allows for a more balanced DR result.
    At 24bits the DR is very large. Your sound can be very quiet and still be usable because there is little or no competing noise generated by the recording system.
    Setting a proper listening level on consumer equipment becomes difficult since sounds can be too soft or too loud.
    So depending on the music, you may have more softer sound then louder sound, so you may choose to grab an upwards compressor in order to raise/increase the amplitude of the more abundant quieter sounds. These sounds are pushed up, closer to the louder sounds, reducing/compressing the DR. The result will sound smoother and consistent. The majority of the music will now be comfortable listening at one playback level.

    If you want to just "fix" a few "overs", downwards compression is your choice.
    With instruments with wide DR like guitar/bass a combination of both systems will get you the best results.

    Cubasis , I'll guess has a compressor that will do both upward and downward compression. The GUI most likely has a window showing a graph with a line along the X/Y axis.
    If you don't have one of those let me know if need be, and I'll work with you with freeware.
    "The dumbest of people are the first to tell you."annode
    My Music

    Comment


    • #3
      That's really useful annode. It fits in with what I have done with the last track. I sussed out some stuff on compression on YouTube and understand that more now.

      I was listening to some older Genesis today from the Duke album and was struck by how flat the mix was, to my ears anyway. That was in the days before Hugh Pagham came into their sphere and pushed the drums right up front. I could hear bits that I felt needed pushing up to increase the dynamics a bit. I guess it's very subjective. Equally, some dance tracks use compression in such a way that every time the bass drum sounds it almost silences the rest of the music. That really gives some dynamics to it. Then there is the guy on Basschat who used to post ambient bass. His tracks were all very, very quiet. So many people commented on this and his reply was always; "it's a fine line between too quiet and too load". That's the way he felt it should be. And there in lies the difference between listeners.

      I did do a bit of post production on the Frippertronics track before I posted it as it was very quiet even for me. I have channel strips to use on Cubasis which is what I used on the remix. There are some more sophisticated plugins available which I shall purchase in the near future.

      From my part this has been a very useful learning experience.
      Graham
      https://www.youtube.com/c/THEBassBus
      https://soundcloud.com/bassbus
      https://hearthis.at/graham-blanche-ov/

      Comment


      • #4
        I appreciate this discussion. I have to say that while I've had one form of "home studio" or another for 30 or more years, I've always been way into guitar more than recording science. Thus I've always accepted less than sterling results. That said, from what Annode said here, I'll try to use a compressor in my DAW (Reaper) and check out some Youtubes for my next piece, which is almost complete. On my signal chain (as I said, I'm a guitarist and all my sounds come from a Strat and pedals), my first pedal is a compressor (Strymon OB.1). I use light compression, but mostly for a little boost/sustain and to even out the level. I haven't done any compression in the DAW. I'm gonna check it out. Thanks for sharing this information.....
        Latest YouTube piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXgprMQmEmM&t=5s
        www.whispersinspace.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by whispersinspace View Post
          I appreciate this discussion. I have to say that while I've had one form of "home studio" or another for 30 or more years, I've always been way into guitar more than recording science. Thus I've always accepted less than sterling results. That said, from what Annode said here, I'll try to use a compressor in my DAW (Reaper) and check out some Youtubes for my next piece, which is almost complete. On my signal chain (as I said, I'm a guitarist and all my sounds come from a Strat and pedals), my first pedal is a compressor (Strymon OB.1). I use light compression, but mostly for a little boost/sustain and to even out the level. I haven't done any compression in the DAW. I'm gonna check it out. Thanks for sharing this information.....
          Hey there whispersinspace.
          I would assume your compressor pedal keeps your gain from going much over your set threshold and thus giving you some room to increase your overall level output, smoothing out dynamically the louder parts.(EDIT - sorry, you did say that)
          When you play below that threshold and you want to get some really long note/chord/reverb sustain, using upward compression in your DAW pre or post recording, is perfect for that.
          You can play a typical dry guitar chord and compress it upward above a threshold and it will sustain for an un-naturally long time.
          Last edited by annode; 02-12-2018, 10:20 PM. Reason: kept spelling you name wrong...jeez
          "The dumbest of people are the first to tell you."annode
          My Music

          Comment


          • #6
            I came across this video which gives the basics of compression in a good clear way that even my small brain understands it.
            Graham
            https://www.youtube.com/c/THEBassBus
            https://soundcloud.com/bassbus
            https://hearthis.at/graham-blanche-ov/

            Comment


            • #7
              That was a good vid. I'm glad to see you further educating yourself.
              The controls are represented clearly here. The attack and release controls are never easy to set by ear, so don't get discouraged.
              For guitar/bass ambient purposes, a compressor will just be a tool to prevent DR problems, achieving smooth consistent levels but not going to be useful artistically like in multi-instrument productions.(good to keep in mind)
              Compressors that do upwards compression will either have a switch going between up and down comp, or the ratios will allow you to set it lower then 1:1 ( .5:1 )
              Up comp is not as popular as down comp, but can be a useful artistic tool in ambient music...it can be compared to the release control knob on a synthesizer.
              "The dumbest of people are the first to tell you."annode
              My Music

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by annode View Post
                When you play below that threshold and you want to get some really long note/chord/reverb sustain, using upward compression in your DAW pre or post recording, is perfect for that.
                You can play a typical dry guitar chord and compress it upward above a threshold and it will sustain for an un-naturally long time.
                Thanks annode, that's an interesting idea: 1) to upward compress, and 2) to try it "pre recording". I'll check that out. I went out to Reaper and there are 2 compressors, one of which allows ratio down to 0.10:1, so from your comment, that would be upward. I'll try it out.....thanks again!
                Latest YouTube piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXgprMQmEmM&t=5s
                www.whispersinspace.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hey Graham, that was a very helpful video. Now, understanding the concepts is a good start; getting them to make my mixes sound better is where the work is......thanks....
                  Latest YouTube piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXgprMQmEmM&t=5s
                  www.whispersinspace.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Don't know if you guys use Reaper, but Kenny Goia has great tutorials (helps me a lot). Here's one on the ReaXcomp (multi band compressor) that is excellent.
                    I created a video showing how to use the ReaXComp Compressor in REAPER.

                    Using a Multi-Band Compressor in REAPER - (ReaXComp)

                    Thanks for the support.
                    __________________
                    Kenny's REAPER Videos and MORE…
                    Latest YouTube piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXgprMQmEmM&t=5s
                    www.whispersinspace.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Aside from the solid advice annode has given on the use of Compression, I'd just like to touch on the process of mixing itself, as most "end result" issues can be avoided altogether during the mixing phase..and that basically means looking at how you actually mix. Treating something "after the fact" is just that..a Band-Aid you slap on your mix..but the real issue is not what needs tweaking, but the mixing process errors you made that produced it.

                      Each of us has our own style when it comes to mixing..every workflow is different, so there's no real hard and fast rule or standard advice that anyone can give you. It's more a case of taking your time and going back over everything you did during the mix that lead to the issues you need to fix in the end. Did you use sounds that clashed? Did you give each sound enough space in the mix to stand out on it's own, without smothering any other sounds? If you're recording in from a live setup, are there any issues with the cables or mics? How accurate are your studio monitors? If you use headphones, are they attuned to your monitors and computer's sound system / audio device? Does your "studio" have "acoustic treatment"? If not, then does it need it..and if it does, has it been applied correctly?

                      As you can see, there's a lot of various possible things that can contribute to a bad mix, but most can be ruled out right away..and only you can know which ones would still remain as possible causes in your own situation. It's basically a process of elimination, once you've done your homework on what actually effects the sounds you hear during mixing. If you're completely sure everything "physical" is in order, then..and only then..your attention should turn to how you actually mix. This is because you then know you really have that "clean smooth canvas to present your artistic work", as annode so eloquently put it.

                      As for the mixing process itself, as a basic guide, I suggest you mix at a low level..in practical terms, around the level that you can just hear the mix through either your monitors or headphones, while talking to somebody at a normal level. Certain frequencies can appear to stand out more at higher levels and this can be misleading, making you think you have a solid mix when, in fact, you don't. Trust me, if you have never mixed at low levels before, it's going to feel completely alien to you and the temptation to crank up the volume with be hard to resist, but stick at it and it will be worth it in the end, trust me.

                      One other thing I'm going to suggest is that you also mix in mono..I know, that sounds crazy..maybe even more so when it comes to mixing ambient music, as you tend to depend on hearing the stereo field during the process, in order to hear what you're doing and how you track is progressing, but give it a try and you'll be really surprised at how much it will help your mixing in general. At first, it's gong to sound strange and very "mono"..obviously..but things become very apparent very quickly in mono. You'll hear right away if something is blocking out or smothering something else in the mix and be able to address it and move on from there, resulting in an end mix that will have less issues that need to be corrected.

                      I'm not really sure if you were looking for advice when you made your initial post, so my apologies if I'm making suggestions that aren't welcome, but after reading the replies that followed, I thought I'd mention the above points..not only for you, but for anyone else reading this who might not know about these things.

                      Here's to mixing better and being more productive in general.
                      Last edited by Ambient Mechanics; 02-14-2018, 10:50 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        OK, wow, I've just played around with the compressor in Reaper, and I'm amazed at the improvement in the solo, distorted, guitar. Incredible. The un-compressed version sounds so lifeless and dull, then the compressor adds real depth and clarity. Yikes, how did I miss this?
                        The ReaXcomp has an "Auto Makeup Gain" checkbox, which I've engaged, and it adds the gain back that the compression may have removed. It does a great job of giving a little boost without being annoying or noisy. Real nice (free) add-in included in Reaper.
                        Grateful to you guys.
                        Latest YouTube piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXgprMQmEmM&t=5s
                        www.whispersinspace.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ambient Mechanics View Post
                          .........., I'd just like to touch on the process of mixing itself,.

                          Here's to mixing better and being more productive in general. :.:
                          Ambient Mechanics: Thanks for the information and the detailed post above. I think I have my physical rig in good shape: good guitar and cables, quality pedals, direct recording from the last pedal. I like your idea of mixing at low volume: everything I do I check my sound meter and keep it in the 60's (conversation level). This is primarily because my ears are sensitive and I worry about hearing loss.
                          Now, the mono mixing thing, I've just started researching this, and it seems like an excellent tip. Thanks for all this, I know it's going to improve my mixes a lot!
                          Latest YouTube piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXgprMQmEmM&t=5s
                          www.whispersinspace.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by whispersinspace View Post

                            Ambient Mechanics: Thanks for the information and the detailed post above. I think I have my physical rig in good shape: good guitar and cables, quality pedals, direct recording from the last pedal. I like your idea of mixing at low volume: everything I do I check my sound meter and keep it in the 60's (conversation level). This is primarily because my ears are sensitive and I worry about hearing loss.
                            Now, the mono mixing thing, I've just started researching this, and it seems like an excellent tip. Thanks for all this, I know it's going to improve my mixes a lot!
                            Hey, you're very welcome..glad you found what I posted helpful.

                            One thing I forgot to mention and might not be clear to some is how to actually mix in mono..I know this is going to be obvious to many reading this, but you never..some might not..so..

                            There are a few ways of doing it. Some DAWs will let you switch between mono and stereo..others don't. If yours is one of those that doesn't..or you don't know how to switch between the two settings, then use something like TDR Kotelnikov compressor on your Master Bus or Sub Master Bus.

                            s03-1.png






















                            The version linked above is totally FREE, but they also offer the "Gentleman’s Edition" for a fee, which gives you additional features..but the free version is pretty solid as is. It's just a matter of making sure you have it set to Mono, by clicking on where it says "Stereo" , as shown in the image above. When you do that, you'll see the Mono option appear. Then, at any stage of the mix, you can switch between the two to check how everything is sitting in the mix..

                            Remember also..if you just want to use the Stereo/Mono feature, then set everything else to neutral settings, so as not to effect your mix before you're actually finished the mixing phase. By all means, use this as your main compressor, if you like..as I said, it's a really solid unit..one of the best out there, imo..but you may have a favorite compressor you usually use to tie things up at the end of everything.

                            That said, it's worth noting that this compressor has a really transparent sound and doesn't really add color to anything..it just "does what it says on the tin", which is what I like about it.
                            Last edited by Ambient Mechanics; 02-15-2018, 04:13 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't know much about pedal boxes now-a-days...I guess some are stereo? Bass and guitar is mono already and most boxes are mono still...no?
                              "The dumbest of people are the first to tell you."annode
                              My Music

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X