Old 03-08-2009, 10:06 PM   #441
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The new yep folder is up!

http://www.filesavr.com/yepthreadsupto3-8-09

Enjoy!
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Old 03-08-2009, 10:52 PM   #442
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Invitation:

I beg to differ on a point. Computer audio is not RAM-intensive. It is CPU intensive, much as graphics applications are. The only time you need big RAM is if you're loading big sample sets, etc.

That said, of course more memory CANNOT be bad by definition...
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Old 03-08-2009, 11:14 PM   #443
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And I will I beg to differ on another point. Radio Shack might have adapters to change an XLR or 1/4" jack to one of the small 1/8" one you need to plug a cable into a bog standard sound card, but in no way will a pro level mic work with just adaptors. You will need at LEAST a good pre amp, and if it is a condenser, then phantom power.

With that said, I, and a few others, have had some acceptable results using Soundblaster cards and the kX Project drivers.....and notice I said ACCEPTABLE! Of course the tracks are not "pro level", but they are totally acceptable for demos and listening. And even then a mixer - pre amp of some kind was needed....

This is just an IMHO post.......
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Old 03-09-2009, 03:07 AM   #444
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Gotta agree with Smurf here. Radio Shack is not the place for audio advice. Their main business is cell phone contracts. Your larger chain music store - Guitar Satan, Sam Ash etc - will have people who can help you better. And a soundblaster card is adequate to get started.
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Old 03-13-2009, 08:19 AM   #445
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Incredible, I found this thread last night and stayed up till 4 am reading.

Yep,

You need to write a book, my man. You have an excellent handle on how to communicate this stuff. I'm no greenie but I learned so much from this run of info.

I'm waiting (patiently) for a section on faux mastering...nothing big, just something to bring my recordings to a decent, consistent (song to song) level without killing the dynamics etc. I've had some good luck and some bad luck but it always seems to be hit and/or miss..sometimes my ears are good and other times, when I think I've got my monitors "learned", I'm foiled.



Smurf,

Having absolutely no clue as to how to get hold of the PDF you are posting.

The site requires a credit card number for a free sign up?..can't do that, burned 'em. Any other way to get hold of this file?

Edit: Smurf..I figured it out. Old version of Safari doesn't support the green button's display..used a different browser and got it..excellent work, thanks for that.

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Old 03-13-2009, 09:09 AM   #446
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Krackle,

To get the .pdf file, just click *download* (ignore the registration stuff).
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Old 03-13-2009, 11:55 AM   #447
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krackle View Post
Yep,

You need to write a book, my man. You have an excellent handle on how to communicate this stuff. I'm no greenie but I learned so much from this run of info.
That's what I said!!




Observation: if you record yourself farting, your recording will truly sound like ass.

Carry on - Yep this is great stuff!
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Old 03-13-2009, 01:52 PM   #448
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Default Mastering

Yep on mastering (cakewalk forum):

http://forum.cakewalk.com/tm.asp?m=475013

(Yep starts at the 3rd message, I think.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krackle View Post
I'm waiting (patiently) for a section on faux mastering...nothing big, just something to bring my recordings to a decent, consistent (song to song) level without killing the dynamics etc.

- Rob

Last edited by robbiecanuck; 03-13-2009 at 01:53 PM. Reason: Fixed typo
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Old 03-13-2009, 03:26 PM   #449
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nfpotter View Post
Invitation:

I beg to differ on a point. Computer audio is not RAM-intensive. It is CPU intensive, much as graphics applications are. The only time you need big RAM is if you're loading big sample sets, etc.

That said, of course more memory CANNOT be bad by definition...
?

I don't actually disagree, but I'm not sure what you're differing with?

Quote:
Yep on mastering (cakewalk forum):

http://forum.cakewalk.com/tm.asp?m=475013

(Yep starts at the 3rd message, I think.)
Wow, blast from the past by an intrepid googler!

I might actually update some parts of that advice later, since there are some things I kind of over-stated. But that sure saved me a lot of typing!
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Old 03-13-2009, 04:00 PM   #450
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Glad your back Yep !

Their was this rumor going around that you had been abducted
by space aliens. :O




Oh ! nfpotter was referring to a post made by someone named invitation. It looks as if invitation ( the poster ) has since removed his post, hence the confusion.

Smurf and Captain Damage are also referring to the same post.

Last edited by TedR; 03-13-2009 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 03-13-2009, 04:47 PM   #451
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Quote:
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Glad your back Yep !

Their was this rumor going around that you had been abducted
by space aliens. :O
No, just busy!

Not to rub it in, but the "green" technology industry is booming right now, and since my "day job" is basically designing and doing engineering studies for energy-management systems, I can barely keep up. Which is a good problem to have these days.

Quote:
Oh ! nfpotter was referring to a post made by someone named invitation. It looks as if invitation ( the poster ) has since removed his post, hence the confusion.

Smurf and Captain Damage are also referring to the same post.
Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying.
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Old 03-13-2009, 04:49 PM   #452
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Krackle, I'm glad you got it figured out. You are not alone in having some problems with that site...but I won 250gig of free online storage from them until like 2038, so I do like to use it!

And for everyone who try to grab the files, bluzkat is correct...you do not need to sign up or register, ya just click on the Green button, and sometimes you have to wait a few secs for your download window to open.

I would like to thank everyone for grabbing the PDF's, and using them, and most of all to yep for posting all the info that goes into them!
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Old 03-13-2009, 04:56 PM   #453
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Thanks for keeping track of them, Smurf. (Although I have to confess to being a little embarrassed at the permanence given to these ramblings...)

Have you tried using stashbox? In my experience it's a little easier for both uploaders and downloaders. And I think it's even Cockos-hosted!
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Old 03-13-2009, 06:33 PM   #454
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Default And Yet Another One.....

Yep's Guide to Better Vocal Recording:
http://forum.cakewalk.com/tm.asp?m=830309&mpage=1&key=


So Yep where else have you been lurking over the years???

So we can dig up ALL your skeletons.

And Thanks for ALL of these.

Cheers,
MoodSwinger
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Old 03-13-2009, 11:22 PM   #455
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Your Welcome yep, my pleasure to do it!

It is a habit I have got into over the years, when I find information that is worth saving I grab it, because it might not be there tomorrow. The ability to share it as it is happening is just a bonus!

I will check into stashbox, I have never tried it.
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Old 03-18-2009, 02:03 PM   #456
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Dear Yep and y'all

With two other guys from the band, I am in the process of mixing our first album. Our two main sources of preliminary research have been this tread along with Mike Stavrou's Mixing With Your Mind. These two great information sources have helped us tremendously, and I feel secure that the album will be awesome.

I have a couple of questions though, partly for you Yep, and partly regarding Mixing With Your Mind that I hope some of you are familiar with. They are both related to gain.

1.) Stavrou goes through a procedure of mixing which starts with "line trimming". That is setting each source to the same voltage, which means that every source reaches the same point on the VU-meter when their faders are in the same position. It has, among other things, the purpose of revealing which sources sound weak and strong using the same amount of voltage, qua Stavrous mantra of achieving maximum voltage with minimum illusion. Now, I realize that this technique is developed for the analogue domain, and I sometimes find it tricky to translate things like these to the digital domain. In this particular case: Would you achieve the same thing by simply normalizing all of the sources?

2.) This leads to the second quetion. You strongly stress the importance of comparing things at the same listening level. You write:

"This "level-matching" that I'm talking about has nothing to do with any console or DAW meters, analog or digital, clip, peak or RMS. It is totally about the volume of sound in open air at the listening position. Neither REAPER nor any other DAW or mixing console has any meter for this, and they could not. I am talking about the actual perceived volume level after the sound has left the speakers. I'm talking about the sound pressure changes in your ear canal, not in the recording system."

I am a bit confused by this, also in accordance to question 1.). I thought that VU-meter/RMS-meter (are they the same?) was supposed to represent the nature of human hearing?

What I am really aiming at is this: Isn't there any way of automating this way of listening with a "steady gain plugin" to put after e.g. an equalizer. Something that would hold the volume on the same level even though you boosted something 10 dB. If not, what is an recommended procedure in for instance an equalizing situation? Simply constantly riding the speakers volume control?

Best
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Old 03-18-2009, 03:23 PM   #457
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sly View Post
I thought that VU-meter/RMS-meter (are they the same?) was supposed to represent the nature of human hearing?
No they aren't the same thing, and no they don't represent human hearing. They both get a little closer than the simple peak meters on your DAW channels, but human hearing is very complex and its exact nature is hard to pin down.
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:03 PM   #458
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...You strongly stress the importance of comparing things at the same listening level. You write...I am a bit confused by this, also in accordance to question 1.). I thought that VU-meter/RMS-meter (are they the same?) was supposed to represent the nature of human hearing?...
Yes, VU and RMS meters are generally supposed to reflect something like the "average loudness" as perceived by human beings, and are much better than peak meters for that purpose. Although one cool thing about being a human being is that you don't actually need a meter to know how loud something sounds to a human being. YOU are the calibration reference. That's how they came up with the VU standard-- by asking people when something sounds louder.

Quote:
...What I am really aiming at is this: Isn't there any way of automating this way of listening with a "steady gain plugin" to put after e.g. an equalizer. Something that would hold the volume on the same level even though you boosted something 10 dB. If not, what is an recommended procedure in for instance an equalizing situation? Simply constantly riding the speakers volume control?
Ahh, well, if you're asking what I think you're asking, like an equalizer that automatically adjusts output gain to compensate for the increased/decreased signal level caused by the eq, I don't know of any such thing.

But you don't have to ride the speaker level, just turn down the track gain. And don't go too overboard with the level-matching, just be aware of it at all times, and use it to double-check yourself. It will start to become second nature.

Normalizing has nothing to do with any of this, since that is a process that is entirely about peak level.

And I'm afraid I have nothing to say about "Mixing with your mind." But I do have some things to say about mixing, and particularly about mixing with your ears, but it might be a few days before I get to them.
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:54 PM   #459
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Mixing

Take a look at this picture:




Whatever you think of the painting or the quality of the art, notice the colors. All of the colors are vivid and bright, but there is still a lot of contrast-- it's not a “flat” or “primary” looking picture. Even though most of the colors ARE fairly primary. There is depth in the shadows but not murk. The water gives a sense of light reflected off of the swampy pond, but the painting itself doesn't LOOK swampy, as it would if the water were painted army green with some reflected highlights. We can tell the bridge is made of concrete or stone even though it's painted blue. We do not perceive the shadows as glowing purple and turquoise. The bright red and orange rectangle in the background still somehow looks like an old brick or brownstone building. There is a sense of dazzling late-spring brightness and sharp contrast even though almost none of the colors used are very dark.

Mixing a record, especially a modern-sounding one, is a game of contrast and difference. In grade school we learned that mixing different parts of the color spectrum (such as red and yellow) makes new colors (such as orange). We also learned that mixing ALL the parts of the color spectrum makes a sort of swampy murk.

When you take a bunch of musical instrument sounds, all of which have some sound across the entire spectrum, and you mix them all together, the result is often a similar kind of swampy murk. Flashes of pure white in a painting can almost hurt your eyes with their brightness, but a blank sheet of pure white paper just looks like a sheet of paper. In the same painting, a couple of dark patches can convey a sense of underwater depth, but a black piece of paper just looks flat. Flatter than even white paper does.

Sky above an open ocean is a staggeringly awesome thing to look at, but makes for the most boring photograph in the world. There is no sense of scale. You have to get some close-up grains of sand along the edge of the beach, or some big ripples in front of a lonely buoy or something. Everything big is the same as everything small.

Mixing is a game of contrast. If you want something to sound loud and explosive, it needs to be contrasted with a bed of quieter stuff, or even better, with a preceding silence. There is an effect used in some movie soundtracks where they pull all the sound down to silence immediately before a big explosion or something, and the effect is deafening and dramatic.

The ear is attracted to motion and difference. Steady-state sounds (such as strumming chords on a distorted guitar) fade into background noise. People are immediately drawn to whatever sound is in motion. This creates some potential for problems if there is a too-busy arrangement. That should have been dealt with at the arrangement and tracking stage, but the mix engineer has a great tool at her disposal: just cut out the stuff that distracts from the vocal. There is nothing at all wrong with a verse that just consists of bass, drums, and vocal. Or even less. First rule of mixing: Just because it was recorded doesn't mean it has to be in the mix.

In the above painting, every part of every inch is EQ'd into a specific and focused frequency (to mix metaphors). As a result, none of it is muddy or washed-out. It's all vivid, dynamic, and what we might call “punchy.” Every part is focused.

If you have a guitar track playing open chords in the low registers, and a bass part mostly playing root notes, then there is only one octave of content (about equivalent to an EQ with a Q setting of 1.2) where the bass is playing content that is not masked by the guitar. And because harmonics extend the range of an instrument upwards, the guitar is masked through its entire range. If you also have a piano playing a left-hand figure in the bass range and right-hand chords in the midrange, then everything is masking everything. And we haven't even tried to fit the vocal in yet. Plus, if we figure that we have push the overall level down about 3~6dB every time we add a new instrument, then these instruments are all getting quieter and quieter. An instrument part that sounds perfect is going to sound a lot different when it's 12dB quieter and masked by four other instruments.

So how do we fit all these clowns into a phone booth so that you can still see them all, and nut just have a big mush of random body parts showing from the outside? The old answer was with clever arrangements-- instruments all had specific roles and assigned ranges, sparser parts to accent and highlight the vocal melody, and the band was structured around the singer's range. The modern answer is with a lot of cosmetic amputations and plastic surgery.

More later.

Last edited by yep; 03-18-2009 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:40 PM   #460
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The simplest solution to rumble is to use high-pass filters on every track. As I mentioned in an above post, frequencies lower than what your monitors can produce are often not all that necessary or desirable to have in a finished recording anyway. And a gradual high-pass filter set to say 40dB actually DOES still allow a significant amount of content down to 20Hz and even below. You could do a lot worse than to simply get in the habit of high-passing until a track sounds bad, then backing off just a smidge. Especially for anything that is not a bass instrument. Not only will this clear up rumble, but it will also clear up mud and undertones on non-bass instruments, giving you more room for a clean, tight, punchy low-end, and more headroom so you can make a "hotter" mix without compressing and limiting everything to death.

An even easier solution to rumble that is also generally good practice is to decouple your mics. This means shock mounts, floor pads under mic stands, anything that keeps sound from being transmitted through anything other than mic diaphragm vibrating in open air. That way what you hear is what you get and the water boiler in the basement doesn't rumble up through the floorboards and mic stand. Padded carpet works great.
I'm working my way through all the great tips on this thread, trying out these ideas on mixes I recorded for my first "CD".

The first thing I've tried is a blind high-pass on all my songs. I just went through and put in a 24db/Oct cut at 50Hz on all non-bass tracks, to test this idea of putting a high-pass filter on every track. Then I burned a CD to compare to what I've had.

I'm really knocked out at how the tracks opened up. First, the rumble is mostly gone, of course, and it sounds much better in the car. This was a problem I've struggled with for a long time but never really understood it. But I also noticed with headphone listening how much more I can hear of the vocal and drum transients. Little tails and endings I couldn't hear before are coming through. Very nice.

Now I plan to go back and do this much more thoughtfully, cutting where needed and as deeply as needed. But I wouldn't have thought just a blind cut would have improved things so much - on every song. And it really is mostly improved -- the character of the songs have not changed significantly, they're just cleaner. I did notice I'll need to adjust a few reverbs, especially vocal reverbs, as they are now too apparent is a couple of spots.

Thanks Yep and everyone else sharing their knowledge.

VOS
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:46 PM   #461
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Once you are done with the high-pass filter, try using a shelving filter to extend the low cut a little further. Just keep going up until it sounds bad, with maybe a 6 or 12dB cut. Start aggressive.

Then try the same on the high end, cutting out all the hiss and air from tracks that don't need it.
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:35 AM   #462
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....
Normalizing has nothing to do with any of this, since that is a process that is entirely about peak level. ...
This is a great point and I think a common "general" misconception to most people, myself included. Until I saw this and thought about how normalizing
actually works, it became a "Duh" moment.

I actually stopped using it (normalizing) on ANY listening device cuz I thought it was full of crap, but now I realize that listening to something with "dynamics" as opposed to compressed and limited,(ie older recorded music, to modern recorded music) it boosted the "volume" a bit but didn't "level it out" like I thought it would/should.
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Old 03-19-2009, 07:26 AM   #463
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Ahh, well, if you're asking what I think you're asking, like an equalizer that automatically adjusts output gain to compensate for the increased/decreased signal level caused by the eq, I don't know of any such thing.
The free (and to my ears excellent sounding) NyquistEQ has exactly this feature. It can be downloaded here: http://magnus.smartelectronix.com/

Regards,
- Jonas
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Old 03-20-2009, 08:12 AM   #464
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Oh, yeah. DEFINITELY keep copius notes on that kind of stuff. That's what I was talking about in the beginning of the thread. Low-residue painter's tape from the hardware store. Stick it on everything. I have it all over the place, with little circles and lines drawn to indicate knob position, and above that I'll have something like "BLP": stands for "Big Les Paul" sound-- circles for every knob, BLP V, BLP T, BLP B, BLP G, BLP R-- you don't have to know what they mean, because I do. Stuck on the amp, on the preamp, with an indicator of which mic, and so on. Anytime I want to record my own stock "big Les Paul" sound, there it is. I have similar tape markings for SNF (which stands for "snarly Fender" sound), GRB-- growly rock bass, BFB-- burpy funk bass, HFB-- hollowbody fretless bass, and so on. MMV8 means "medium male vocals 8 inches away" for my-go vocal mic. SFV0 means "soft female vocals close miked" on same.

On my mic stands, I scratch lines into the metal to indicate common positions. That makes it quick and easy to set up a boom stand and lock it into place, knowing that it will line up at for instance the right height to get the top speaker of a slant cab. I actually keep a steak knife on the recording desk for this purpose that also helps to motivate singers. I have tape on the angle-adjustment to mark the angle. So if I have to set up in front of the same amp for the "big les paul" sound, I know to set the boom arm to the third scratch, the height adjustment to the lowest, and the angle to the BLP3L mark, and I'm going to be awfully close to where I was last time as long as I remember to aim the mic across the speaker cone almost touching the grill. And that much I remember just from taking the time to jot down those few marks.

In REAPER's "project settings>notes" I ALWAYS write the key and/or rough chord progression and performance notes (something like "verse ADAG chorus DEDCBA bass 1415 except turnaround fill"). It's not a proper lead sheet but it is enough that if I re-open in three years I don't have to go hunting for chords. It only has to be enough to remind me, it doesn't have to be a diary.

In the same field, I always include production notes. Who what where when how. E.g. BLP, RAT, GRB, Jfdr, bsn1, MMV 8, SVF12x2, DimHO78.

To me, the above reads Guitar 1 Big Les Paul; Guitar 2 Raunchy Archtop; Growly Rock Bass; Jeff's Drum kit; Birch Snare 1; Male medium vocals 8"; Soft Female Vocals 12" double-tracked; Dimension Pro set to Hammond Organ 78 preset.

I know that "big les paul" means the little 5-watt tube amp with the gain, eq, and reverb settings marked in tape, and the mic stand notched. I know that "growly rock bass" means the heavy-body maple-neck bass through a sansamp (settings marked in tape). I know that my notebook has the standard setup for "Jeff's Drum Kit" if I don't remember it. I have little pieces of tape tape all over the oriental rug to mark where different drums and mic stands go. I know that Female Vocals 12" means that they were tracked in the corner to the right of the couch, and so on. I could probably do punch-ins on a 3-year-old project using these notes.

You don't have to use my system. In fact you shouldn't. The most important thing is to make it easy, otherwise you won't do it. Just make it easy to take notes, and to keep them in a place where you will find them later. YOUR NOTES DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT. They don't even have to be very good. They just need to jog your memory, they don't have to be a historical tome documenting your exploits for future generations. Approximate knob settings and positions are fine, since it's always going to be a little different anyway.

this is why you need that organization and PAD OF PAPER that I mentioned earlier. That way, when you think of something, you can WRITE IT DOWN. Forgot how you set up that awesome sound last weekend. WRITE DOWN ON YOUR PAD OF PAPER: "Figure out way to remember awesome sounds." Then get on with recording. Then, your PAD OF PAPER will remind you to buy painter's tape, sharpies, and to make notes next time.

The PAD OF PAPER is your producer, telling you in the cold light of sober reflection what was good and bad about each recording session, keeping track of the details that need to be worked on for next time, noting which things you were and weren't happy with at different times and providing a kind of emotional ballast against the temptation to reinvent everything every time you get frustrated or annoyed.

Monitors and a pad of paper. It's all you need. (and maybe some painter's tape).
Which 5 watt tube amp (if you don't mind me asking)?
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Old 03-20-2009, 10:57 PM   #465
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Which 5 watt tube amp (if you don't mind me asking)?
I don't mind your asking, but I'm sorry to report that it is basically homemade from a custom combo chassis with a spring reverb from a mid-80s Peavy combo hacked in. The speaker is a celestion green, FWIW.

But that doesn't mean that it's any better than anything you could buy off-the-shelf, or even from a plugin. It's just the amp I happened to have hacked together over the years. If anything, it's meant to sound like a mid-80s Marshall half-stack, except without the phase discrepancies from multiple speakers. To each her own.
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Old 03-21-2009, 05:29 PM   #466
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The old answer was with clever arrangements-- instruments all had specific roles and assigned ranges, sparser parts to accent and highlight the vocal melody, and the band was structured around the singer's range. The modern answer is with a lot of cosmetic amputations and plastic surgery.
Insight!!
Sheer genius
Authoritative wisdom.

Thanks much.

Last edited by steadyrev; 03-21-2009 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 03-22-2009, 02:22 PM   #467
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...To a guitarist, be it because he's looking for mojo, emulating a hero, or heard a recoded tone that he just fell in love with, crap like the brand of opamp in the overdrive or clipping diode in his dirt box could be the difference between tonal night and day.

Now, stop thinking like a guitarist. Start thinking like a recordist...His sound has to inspire him to play his absolute best...
This was a great post all around that hits some perfect notes about the differences between creating music and recording music. The better you can learn to separate the "behind the glass" process, the more productive you will be. If you're recording yourself, then you have to learn to trust yourself on both sides of the glass.

Unless you have an infinite time horizon for completion, at some point you have to close the door on each step, cross it off the list, and call it "done." And there is no sense at all to trying to second-guess future steps until you get there.

There are a lot of musicians for whom home recording has become just a sort of ongoing process, like gardening or something, where after work they like to sit in front of the computer and mess around with sounds and knobs and so on, without any particular objective or clear to-do list. Which is perfectly fine. It's probably a much better way to pass the time and to keep your brain engaged than watching television. But I daresay it is unlikely to yield a finished record at any predictable future date.

Businesses have brainstorming and R&D budgets and time planned for open-ended sandbox creativity, and then they have a separate production process. Probably every album ever released has something wrong with it that the artist wanted more time for-- a bad verse, a brilliant synth intro that never got finished, a solo that has some mistakes or that had to be copied over with outtakes because something was out-of-tune, a mix that wasn't quite there, a bassline they wish they had re-written to go better with the strings, whatever. But hopefully the good outweighs the bad and people ultimately get their $18 worth on release day.
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Old 03-22-2009, 05:06 PM   #468
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Back to mixing, fitting clowns into a phone booth, and creating contrast...

- If you have a really cool part that is getting obscured in the mix, instead of going through convulsions trying to make it audible, feature it in an early and/or late breakdown. e.g. if you have a really cool left-hand piano figure (top of the list for coolest and most likely to get obscured instruments), start off the first verse with just the left hand of the piano and vocals, or maybe do the same right after the bridge or something. Then the audience will still hear it even once it's buried. Plus, the effect of starting with something cool (piano bassline) and then overwhelming it with something even cooler (whole band) creates a tidal wave of awesomeness.

- If you have a guitar riff or some such that is obscuring or fighting the vocal, pull back or cut out the guitar part when the vocal is singing (duh). You can use the vocal to duck the guitar with a compressor side-chain (maybe even more effective if you use bandwidth-limited compression to only duck the upper presence range), or you can just turn down or mute the guitar part during singing.

- Before auto-tuning anything that sounds pitchy, try cutting the lower mids with deep, broad eq. Pitch perception is a weird thing, and for a whole lot of reasons, "perfectly in tune" does not always sound perfectly in tune. Pitch correction does not always solve the most frustrating kinds of pitch problems, especially with harmonically complex stuff like the human voice.

- Get in the habit of "marking out" important eq ranges early in the mixing process. You don't necessarily need to DO anything with them, just kind of drag around shelving and bandpass filters across individual instruments with the whole mix playing. See where things start to jump out or fade back.

- Following the above, know that the best clarity and impact will come from focus and minimalism in key areas. If the hi-hats and guitars both have the same "sizzle" range, then you probably need to decide which of them to pull back at that frequency. Otherwise your beautiful "sizzle" turns to fizzy hash. You might decide to have the guitar riff sizzle the first time through, to showcase it, and then to pull back the highs for the rest of the song and let the hi-hats take over for a more overall "hi-fi" sound. Or maybe you punch the guitars back up for the pre-chorus or something. Whatever. Same goes for all the different frequency ranges. The more separation and focus you can get the better your overall clarity and headroom will be. Five instruments all playing on the same frequency is like scribbling over the same spot with every crayon-- not a vibrant explosion of color, just swampy murk.

- Speaking of guitar riffs and other kinds of overwhelming musical awesomeness... less is more when comes to really heavy-handed and iconic musical figures. By way of example, I direct your attention to "Smoke on the water" by Deep Purple. The guitar riff to end all guitar riffs is really nothing more than an intro and a measure used to transition out of the chorus. If you want to make your audience go crazy (in good ways), punctuate your musical ideas with really cool fills and transitional devices. If you instead want drive your audience insane in all the wrong ways, loop the riff from Smoke On The Water over and over again for five minutes. I don't think there are more than a dozen repetitions of the signature riff in the album version of that song. You might be afraid your audience won't notice a figure that is only played twelve times throughout the song. Trust me, nobody who's heard it has failed to notice the smoke on the water riff.

- With the above in mind, it may be necessary to make some very painful cuts in the mix. I will bet dollars to doughnuts that the first version of "Smoke on the Water" had a LOT more repetitions of that riff until a producer or someone with a sense of proportion came in and pointed out that too much gravy spoils the meat. And this is not just for guitar riffs. We've all heard neo-soul singers go so over the top with miasma that there is no longer any sensible melody. The lead is basically accompanying a virtual melody that nobody else knows, and there is nothing to remember, nothing to sing along with, and no longer any real "song" there. Horn parts that were written before the lead vocal was recorded are another common culprit. And slap-style bass lines can often make mixing a waking nightmare.

Musicians who have played a song hundreds and thousands of times often lose sight of what it sounds like to someone who only ever hears it for three minutes at a time a few times a year. There is a tendency to err on the side of "too much" rather than too little. Like a cook making a sauce all day, every time they taste it, their tongue gets a little number to the flavor. So they keep adding more salt and spices until they finally deliver a dish to the table that is overpowering and unbalanced. This is a good reason to keep tracking and mixing separate, and to mix with fresh ears in short bursts.

- A lot of modern rock and hip-hop music has a very monotonic quality throughout. The vocal line may not have much melodic variation, the guitars basically play the same open chords throughout, the bass is playing pedal tones, the backing beds stay in the same key, and so on. This is not necessarily a bad thing, in spite of the protestations of music nerds who don't "get" modern pop. The creative essence of a lot of popular (i.e. non-classical) music is not melody and harmony and all that, but the expressiveness and performance gestures and stuff that an audiologist might call "formant." And this stuff might vary quite a bit in very compelling and yes, artistic, ways.

But what to do when your expressive and compelling performance gestures and aching or slamming vocals are getting weighed down by a dull, droning lower midrange that just sounds like a soup of gray monotony? The answer to this one is so easy and obvious that most people never even think of it as such, even if they do it without knowing why: CUT THE FUNDAMENTALS. Just cut out the actual "note" and leave the "formant," harmonics, and performance gestures and hear your tracks spring to vibrant life. A lot of people are afraid to cut lows for fear that they will lose depth and weight, but you don't need to paint swampy green to show a pond.

Probably every third record on the radio features a strumming acoustic guitar that has been high-passed right up into the upper midrange, and instead of sounding like a dull throbbing it sounds sparkly, lively, and dynamic. The ear is drawn to motion and tunes out monotony. So to make things "pop," turn down the steady-state portions. This works ESPECIALLY well with "power" instruments and vocals that have a lot of lower-midrange chest, and even with bass guitar. Skeptics: try it and thank me later.

Next post on dealing with high frequencies.
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Old 03-22-2009, 05:06 PM   #469
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If you have been trying to get clarity, air and spaciousness by boosting highs on everything, you're doing it wrong. Every time you add another track, you add more hiss, fizz, and "veil" to the sound. And boosting the highs just adds more veil and makes the high end more obscure and muffled. The key to top-end clarity is CUTTING the highs, just as the key to low-end punch and depth is cleaning up all the mud and murk. Not many instruments need ANY content above 11k. And few even need much above 5k. A lot of them don't need much above 1 or 2k. Once you have opened your eyes to the world of cutting lows, the next step is to get just as ruthless about cutting highs on every track until it sounds bad, and then see who is the "last man standing."

The thing about deciding which highs to leave intact is that it depends a LOT on the specifics of the sounds involved. In my home studio projects, it's frequently the drums, solely because I usually trigger through BFD which has much cleaner highs than what I get recording in the spare bedroom. If I'm recording a real drum kit, then it's probably the opposite-- my home drum recordings might have more hiss and background noise than for instance the vocals or acoustic guitar or something else that was recorded close, with fewer mics. In a "real" studio with better isolation and better signal paths, it could be anything. It also depends a lot on the actual "content" up in the highs. A whispery alto female is a much likelier candidate for having meaningful musical information above 3k than a falsetto metal screamer singing in the same range.

This brings us to a really important point, which is the definition of the "highs." In my opinion, the useful "highs" are roughly the two-and-a-half octaves from about 2k to 12kHz. Remember, high C is something like 8k, and that sounds REALLY high when you hear it. (An alto sax tops out at like 800Hz, about three octaves lower). Anything much higher than 12k is more perceived than heard, and usually not in good ways. This range should be thought of as psycho-acoustical "super-highs" that devour headroom and contribute little to most music except as an occasional "special effect."

This is really deceptive to novices who look at an equalizer and see almost a full octave that is practically inaudible at the top end. It's one thing to push up the top end of the "smiley curve" on a muscle car stereo, but anybody with good monitors who fancies themselves a mix engineer and who shelves up the highs on more than one instrument should probably be beaten with a ball-peen hammer.

Hiss is really an ugly enemy of audio, especially when it happens in ranges that are too high to clearly hear but that are low enough to still veil and mask the sound. In courtrooms, when the lawyers approach the bench to talk to the judge, the jury is often treated to a spray of white noise from overhead speakers to mask sound. Mobsters talking "business" might turn on a faucet or a loud air-conditioner to mask what they are saying. This is what hiss does-- it emphatically does NOT make anything sound "airy" or "clear," it instead makes things sound veiled, muffled, and obscure, even if it's too high to actually "hear." If you go to an old person who can't hear anything above 13k, and play some white noise filtered to 14k and above, they won't be able to understand anything people are saying. Similar technology underlies real-world "cones of silence" used by spy agencies and the like. The old RIAA AES mechanical rule for mastering had everything cut above 12kHz, and a lot of great-sounding records were made that way right up until the mid-1990s.

The point of all the above is to reinforce the reality that boosting high-shelf filters on everything does not INCREASE "clarity" and "air" but instead muffles and masks it. Especially with content that contains an acoustically significant amount of hiss, noise, or fizz. That means most home recordings and ANY electric guitar, bass, or unbalanced instrument such as analog synths and keyboards. The fact is, you could do a lot worse than to simply cut everything above 12kHz or even lower, across the board.

You might be thinking "won't that sound muffled?" Isn't the "air" part of the sound? Well the good news is that sound won't reproduce in a vacuum, so your audience will by definition be listening in a space that contains air. And real-world speakers and reflections produce harmonics. So no, you don't need to bring your own air to the party. But if you're skeptical, instead of trying to think it through, just try it and see. If you actually LISTEN to your favorite records and the instrumentation, you might be surprised at how much the individual instrument sounds are the exact midrange opposite of the intuitive beginner "smiley-curve" eq.
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Old 03-22-2009, 06:29 PM   #470
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Back to mixing, fitting clowns into a phone booth, and creating contrast...

- If you have a really cool part that is getting obscured in the mix, instead of going through convulsions trying to make it audible, feature it in an early and/or late breakdown. e.g. if you have a really cool left-hand piano figure (top of the list for coolest and most likely to get obscured instruments), start off the first verse with just the left hand of the piano and vocals, or maybe do the same right after the bridge or something. Then the audience will still hear it even once it's buried. Plus, the effect of starting with something cool (piano bassline) and then overwhelming it with something even cooler (whole band) creates a tidal wave of awesomeness.
Yes yes yes yes yes!

And that's where production meets arrangement.

I tend to contruct my intros that way, layering in small scraps, or appropriate variations, of parts, hooks, textures, fx/sounds, gimmicks...

In those first measures, you get a condensed overview of what lies ahead. Like a film trailer. Literally, an introduction. It sets up the song's signature.

It's a fairly subliminal process. I wanted something I'm working on to have loud guitar feedback and everything that evokes. But a little feedback goes a long way (this isn't metal I'm doing.) I layered some right at the top so that right off it says "loud." Then when it pops up at a few select times under the full mix-in-progress, it's like it's been wailing away the whole time.

I began starting my projects at measure 11, or 21, instead of measure 1, so that I had plenty of pre-roll to structure the intro, copying and backfilling, as the rest of the arrangement and production evolves and hooks and handles emerge.
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Old 03-22-2009, 07:26 PM   #471
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I have a problem understanding what goes on in the highs.

On my own mixes, if I try boosting at 12k or higher I notice that there is actually not much of anything there but hiss.

If I look on a spectrum analyzer it shows a fairly steep roll-off above 12k.

However, when I put commercial music through the spectrum analyzer there is content up to around 20k.
Admittedly, the high end on much commercial music just sounds like noise added as an overlay to the actual music.
Maybe that is what it really is?
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Old 03-22-2009, 08:05 PM   #472
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I have a problem understanding what goes on in the highs.

On my own mixes, if I try boosting at 12k or higher I notice that there is actually not much of anything there but hiss.

If I look on a spectrum analyzer it shows a fairly steep roll-off above 12k.

However, when I put commercial music through the spectrum analyzer there is content up to around 20k.
Admittedly, the high end on much commercial music just sounds like noise added as an overlay to the actual music.
Maybe that is what it really is?
Content below around 45Hz or above about 12kHz falls under the "special effect" category. If you have a record where a spectral analyzer shows content outside those ranges, just drag a copy into REAPER and filter it for those frequencies to see what they sound like. Alternately, try cutting those frequencies and see whether/if/how bad the sound suffers (my guess is very little if not zero on most material, and it may even improve).

My point was not that the ultra-high end is bad, just that it's not ipso-facto GOOD, especially if it mostly or entirely consists of hiss and electrical noise, which is likely if there is not any significant musical content up there.

Don't try to think it through, just try it out. It takes more time to type this stuff than it takes to drag around a low-pass filter in Reaper.

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Old 03-22-2009, 08:21 PM   #473
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WOW Yep! That was beautiful man!

Seriously, not trying to make fun, here. I really appreciate all your knowledgeable insights and obvious vast experience you have with mixing/mastering, etc.

I am one of those noobs you described who tends to try to use a lot of highs to bring out the liveliness in recordings, but I realize that what you are saying makes absolute sense, and I have compared my recordings numerous times with professional recordings and notice that hey are not just highs pumped into the upper echelons to get a nice "twang".

Havent had a chance to try out these suggestions yet, but I am excited about trying soon.

Do you have any suggestions about getting a good vocal mix as well? As you mentioned, vocals have complex mixes of tones and such and each voice is unique in its own way.

Thanks in advance

Last edited by EVAD; 03-22-2009 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 03-22-2009, 09:56 PM   #474
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...Do you have any suggestions about getting a good vocal mix as well? As you mentioned, vocals have complex mixes of tones and such and each voice is unique in its own way.

Thanks in advance
If you have (as is common) a good instrumental mix and are having a hard time "fitting in" the vocals without either burying them or overwhelming everything else, a generic starting point is to aggressively cut the lower mids of the vocals. I say that without knowing anything at all about the song, mix, performance or recording, so it's got maybe a 55% chance of being applicable to your specific record. But it's a bigger chance than any of the other thousand possibilities.

Vocals are no different from any other instrument, except that clarity and articulation are paramount, and that there is a massive potential embarrassment factor if they don't sound great. The bass player might frown a little if her part is not heard clearly and the way she envisioned it, but she's never going to hate the record the way that a singer will if the vocals are not the way they imagine themselves sounding.

I posted some stuff earlier in this thread about vocals specifically. Happy to talk more about specific questions.
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Old 03-23-2009, 12:37 AM   #475
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New yep file is up!

http://www.filesavr.com/yepthreads-upto3-23-09thread476

Enjoy!
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Old 03-23-2009, 04:38 PM   #476
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Wow !

Yep I owe you a Big Thank You

I decided to try a generic 12khz roll off on all the tracks
on a song I am currently working on. I used a high shelf to do it.

The end result was just amazing, no single tweak I've tried has done as much to increase clarity and articulation as that.

Acoustic guitar, bass guitar, vocals, everything sounds clearer and more natural.

I have to admit that I found it very counter intuitive. I probably
would have never tried something like that unless I had seen it in your thread. It almost seems like something I would do if i was mixing for AM radio.

BUT, the end result is unmistakeably better.



Man, I feel like I need to send you some cash or something

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Old 03-24-2009, 08:10 AM   #477
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Sorry to jump in out of nowhere but I have to respectfully disagree. You have to know what you're recording! Without accurate monitors during tracking you'll end up with some unpleasant surprises come mix time.

Gantt

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I agree that quality monitors are essential to mixing, but not necessary for good tracking. If you are in a scenario, as many are, where you record at home, but send your projects out to be mixed, I would say that you can get spectacular results with a $100 pair of AKG headphones...and your neighbors will thank you!

If you're recording with a guitar amp mic'ed with an SM57, your neighbors will also thank you for using an amp sim VST...That also gives the mixing engineer the option to re-amp your sound...
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Old 03-28-2009, 12:08 PM   #478
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yep, thanks for this incredible thread. I discovered it ~ 2 weeks ago and I have been reading about a page a night. I caught up, but I am working through the fundamentals you posted early on:

"There are three categories of stuff in your studio:

1. Stuff you need to access regularly, and that needs to be right at hand.
2. Stuff you only need to access rarely (a few times a year), that can be stored away.
3. Trash."

My wife and I are applying this to way more than reorganizing my studio space. This is a life lesson really and it is posted on a big sticky note right next to the computer monitor where I am typing this.

and

"Finished is always better than perfect."

I am still stuck trying to finish up recordings I started back in 2004 with a Behringer mixer and an Audiomedia III card. I got caught up in the "well, maybe I should recut the bass with a Sansamp, and I should recut the acoustic with an SM81 instead of leaving the original SM57 track". Not to mention getting roped into the preamp wars, "best vocal mic" threads. I have pulled out the credit card way too many times chasing the perfect whatever. Perfectionism is a big tripwire for me. I did finally settle on mics, preamp, DI. Now I just need to learn how to move beyond the "home studio" sound quality that I have been stuck in since I started with a 3340 back in the late '70s.

I am a long way from worrying about the details of how to use a compressor and EQ. I have 54 year old ears, fried by too many years playing bass next to a trap set. So, the "all you need is ears" thing is conditional what with tinnitus, high frequency loss in my right ear, etc. At this point, I am just trying to capture the best sound with mic placement and zero EQ and compression processing at all going in, kind of a "Do no harm" attitude. Then let a real engineer and undamaged ears mix it.

This is the most original, helpful recording thread I have ever read.

Thanks again,
bilco
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Old 04-03-2009, 03:44 PM   #479
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I think this might be a good time to re-visit some of the basics in light of some of the ground covered since the start of the thread.

Earlier I mentioned that there is a big "2 steps forward 1 step back" aspect to learning audio engineering, and that everything affects everything else. As you move from recording to mixing, it is common to change the approaches you might use while recording.

Beginners often start out trying to get each track to sound as big and hype and powerful as possible, so that each track sounds as close to a satisfying, full-spectrum solo recording as possible. And then they find that the process of mixing is largely a process of removing a lot of that size and hype and power from individual tracks. Which is fine, there's nothing at all wrong with that. Sometimes it's actually a better approach.

But as you start to make more successful mixes, and as the whole recording process begins to inform your listening to other commercial recordings, it's not unusual to find yourself tracking in different, more focused ways. Maybe you're selecting different mics, and backing them off the source a little, knowing that capturing gobs of massive proximity effect is only going to mean applying gobs of massive low-cut further down the line. Maybe you find yourself more confident about applying some basic eq and compression right at the tracking stage, now that you have a better sense of what the track is going to need to settle into the mix. You might find yourself re-visiting some of your old standby synthesizer patches or guitar sounds after having had a hard time wrestling them into a mix. You might start to re-think the kinds of drum sounds you're trying to capture as you get a better sense of what is likely to complement particular kinds of songs, mixes, and tempos.

Everyone is different, and everyone takes a different approach. And this is yet another reason why "presets" and "recipes" are of limited usefulness. If you and I record with the exact same bass guitar, but mine is set with heavier strings and with the pickups half a centimeter closer to the strings, then I might be tracking a much hotter, flatter, mushier sound that needs a whole different approach than yours, which might be thinner, clearer, and have jumpier dynamics. If we both use the same mic to record the same singer, but you start with the mic 12" away, off-axis, and I start with the mic 3" away, on-axis, then there are very likely going to be massive differences in frequency profile. It will sound like we recorded with totally different equipment. And which is "better" is a totally subjective call.
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Old 04-03-2009, 05:07 PM   #480
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Hi yep.
I have a question about sample rate. Like everyone else I have read tons of threads and articles about the subject, yet it's not 100% clear to me.

I'm quite sure that my recording gear is not capable of capturing sounds above the range of a 44.1 KHz recording.
So, there is no valid reason then to record at a higher sample rate?
And, if there is an advantage to recording at 88.2 KHz or higher, what it is?

Thanks in advance.

Edit: Sorry if the theme have been addressed previously in this thread.
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