Old 01-20-2012, 09:11 PM   #2121
yep
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,017
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Data View Post
I've made the experience that, if drummers are able to tune their kit "right" (whatever that may be) by long years of studying the genre or just by intuition, it's way more easy to get the right sound tracked down. Unless the musical style demands it, all bending of the sound with technical devices is only a crook and should be used as sparingly as possible, IMO.


-Data
The hard part is that there is only so much you can do with a drum kit.

Unless you have genuine genetic "perfect pitch" (which I am skeptical of to begin with-- do birdsongs sound out-of-tune? How about alternate scales? Or what about orchestras that use just intonation? Or A442? Do those sound out-of-tune? I don't believe it)... Unless you have "perfect pitch", you probably pick a drum kit based on how it sounds as a solo instrument.

You find a good kick with power and thump, maybe it's tight and clicky/punchy, or maybe it's cavernous and boomy, whatever. You pick a snare that offsets and complements the kick, maybe the sharp crack of snapping a carrot, maybe the woody "bonk" of a piccolo, maybe the explosive "pakow" of a deep metal thing with a de-tuned bottom head. Whatever.

Now, if you're good at this business of kit-matching, then you'll build a good kit that sounds appropriate in relation to itself, as opposed to just picking drums one at a time.

IOW, a "bad kit" (which might be made of "good drums") would be one, where, for example, the kick drum sounds tight and clicky but the snare sounds boomy and spacious. Or where the toms are totally mis-matched to the kick and snare. Or where the crash sounds dark and deep compared to the chippy, clicky ride. I mean, maybe that's intended in some cases, but for the most part:

- The kick/snare alternation should sound like a thump/smack or boom/crack or stomp/clap, bump/tat or something like that. They should complement each other, and should sound of a kind with each other.

- The toms should fit in with this and complement the kick/snare. A big, boomy, room-filling floor tom can be problematic with a tight, punchy, thumpy kick. A sharp, piccolo, boinky hi-tom is problematic with boomy, explosive snare. Everything should complement everything else.

- Same with cymbals. If you have a deep, shimmery, gong-like crash accent, it will sound weird if paired with a tinky/chinky ride or with a hashy/trashy hi-hat. The "crash" accent should usually sound like a bigger, more powerful, saturated ride/hat, not like some lesser "behind the scenes" synth-pad.

The art of building a good kit is getting all the pieces to complement each other in a way that fits the drummer's playing style.

Problem is, now that she's build this awesome-sounding kit, there is only so much "tuning" we can do. It might sound awesome in songs in the key of C, and also in Am, and very good in G. In F it might sound okay, but in B the toms might start to sound boingy and weird, compared to the song.

You can re-tune the heads, but you can't re-tune the shell. Now you're making the drums sound worse to fit the song.

This is where pitch-correction or digital processing is helpful. You can take your "good-sounding" drum tracks and pitch them up or down a quarter-step or so.

Drums are not "pitch" instruments, but they have "pitch" elements. Ideally, we want the subjective "sound" of the drums to complement and fit in with the "note" of the bass. Maybe sometimes a weird tension or incongruity is cool. But for the most part, weird, dissonant, or "boingy"-sounding drums are not what we are going for. We want the drums to reinforce the bass notes, or somehting like that.

Same with the cymbals: the crash should generally sound louder and more saturated than the ride, and fuller and bigger then the open hat. The closed hat should complement the snare and sound like a chinkier, more muffled version of the ride. The cymbals should complement each other, and the snare/kick.

Of course, rules are made to be broken. But breaking the rules does not always produce better results.

As a general rule (meant to be broken), older kits tend to be more forgiving than newer ones. Some old Slingerland Radio King kit is apt to have a thmupy, rickety, atonal sound, the kind of thing where you can step on the kick pedal and then go out for a smoke and the kick is still resonating when you get back. This is not what you would want for a fast-attack 180BPM metal band or for thumpy-throbby club tracks. Those call for tight DW-style kits or 808 drum-machines, respectively.

Point is: it's not just a matter of picking individual kit-pieces and then "tuning" them for the song, it's about creating a whole kit that suits a certain sound and style. Just because the kick or floor tom or crash sounds awesome by itself, doesn't mean it's part of the best overall kit for a given song.
yep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-20-2012, 10:09 PM   #2122
steadyrev
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: JAMAICA
Posts: 492
Default

If I understand it right, tuning of a kit is also subject to genre expectations and key of song[ if that is an issue]
I've had long waits in studio for the drummer to adjust between songs.

Good to see sensible activity in this thread again.
steadyrev is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2012, 12:25 PM   #2123
JonnyHomes
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 120
Default

I just read Zen and the Art of Mixing by "Mixerman" and he raves about mixing in the box (he uses Logic) and then using Dangerous 2-Bus analog summing and he claims that digital summing (in all DAWs) is crap.

I'm quite curios as to what Yep's opinion on this matter is?

~~~

He also claims an analog stereo compressor is essential. Any thoughts?
__________________
home recording studio blog
JonnyHomes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-26-2012, 04:59 PM   #2124
grampazero
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 5
Default from headphones to speakers?

Hey people,
Ive been through this thread many times...thanks to all. I certainly read the stuff about headphones, but wanted to pose my question this way: After recording my song using headphones, I have rough mixed -or whatever you want to call it- using headphones, and am really happy with that result. Does that mean that as long as I trust my monitors and know what I WANT, I should be able to get a mix I'm happy with? I appreciate all your responses! thanks.
grampazero is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 06:27 PM   #2125
dea-man
Human being with feelings
 
dea-man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 6,137
Default Well, it's like this...........

You may get a mix you feel happy about, using whatever monitoring system you have, (whatever that may be), including headphones. As long as everyone who ever listens to your song, listens to it on "your" monitoring system, they will hear exactly what you hear.

However, that does not often happen.

So, I think you'll want a mix that translates well to multiple listening environments (earbuds, car, boombox, CD player, computer speakers, etc.). This takes time, patience, trial, error and experience.

If you know, really well, how your monitoring system reproduces commercial releases, and can replicate that sound, then you have a chance of being really, really happy with your mixes.
__________________
Please check out my REAPER produced music here: http://soundcloud.com/dea-man
dea-man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 07:03 PM   #2126
Zee Wavesurfer
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,588
Default

A friend of mine today confessed he's losing the flame.
Claimed his mixing ain't what it used to be.
I told him the reason might not be him.
He refused to believe it MIGHT be because of the softwares.

It has been about 8 years since I last heard an ITB mix made on a native daw that was actually a 'mix'.
I hear a lot of tracks from a lot of people from a lot of countries (FYI).

Last edited by Zee Wavesurfer; 02-27-2012 at 07:13 PM.
Zee Wavesurfer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 07:20 PM   #2127
johnwilliamhunter
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 6
Default

Is what you're saying that if you don't have an acoustically treated room or accurate studio monitors that you shouldn't be recording anything or just that you shouldn't be bothering to try and make the recordings any better?
johnwilliamhunter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 07:22 PM   #2128
Zee Wavesurfer
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,588
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnwilliamhunter View Post
Is what you're saying that if you don't have an acoustically treated room or accurate studio monitors that you shouldn't be recording anything or just that you shouldn't be bothering to try and make the recordings any better?
no
Just that something ain't as spontaneous functionality-wise as before.
And that a few (very few people) notice and even fewier spot the 'why'.

Still, it impeaches many people's self-growth.

I posted a line yesterday saying: 'Even a monkey would understand the bass button adds bass after a first inquiry.'
I wonder why I deleted it.
I knew I'd have to expect a few punches saying 'piling up tracks ain't mixing'.
But, thats what we all do now, we pile-up tracks.
Noone mixes. Noone can.
It is only logical to investigate the tools. (I don't exclusively mean Reaper)

Do yourself a favor, consider it MIGHT be. Only MIGHT be.
Worse case scenario: you'll hear it.

Last edited by Zee Wavesurfer; 02-27-2012 at 07:55 PM.
Zee Wavesurfer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 10:51 PM   #2129
brainwreck
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 20,843
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zee Wavesurfer View Post
A friend of mine today confessed he's losing the flame.
Claimed his mixing ain't what it used to be.
I told him the reason might not be him.
He refused to believe it MIGHT be because of the softwares.

It has been about 8 years since I last heard an ITB mix made on a native daw that was actually a 'mix'.
I hear a lot of tracks from a lot of people from a lot of countries (FYI).
It is amazing what can be done with software, but is the sound at the point that it should be? I think that in most cases it isn't. Most people getting into audio recording/mixing these days are starting out with computers and software, and it makes me wonder sometimes.
brainwreck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 11:15 PM   #2130
Marah Mag
Human being with feelings
 
Marah Mag's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Here
Posts: 3,000
Default

My guidelines:

1) If you don't have solid isolation between the source you're recording and the monitors through which you're listening to your DAW's output, then record direct. If recording vocals, try to find a reasonably dead space, focus on performance, and just do it. Ditto acoustic gtr and any other through-the-air sources.

2) If you don't have an acoustically treated and tuned room in which to mix, then do the best you can to make your musical intentions & your aesthetic clear, try to find some compromise between how it sounds on whatever common listening devices/environments are available to you (earbuds and computer speakers being the most important IMO), then stop fretting about it and move on to another song.

3) If your goal is to demonstrate your *engineering* skills AND either 1) or especially 2) above apply to you, then get ready for a long and often demoralizing haul.

4) Focus on your strengths and what you can accomplish practically with your current assets.

5) Collaborate.

6) Don't fetishize or chase 'sound'.
Marah Mag is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 11:47 PM   #2131
Zee Wavesurfer
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,588
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by brainwreck View Post
It is amazing what can be done with software, but is the sound at the point that it should be? I think that in most cases it isn't. Most people getting into audio recording/mixing these days are starting out with computers and software, and it makes me wonder sometimes.
Totally.
Zee Wavesurfer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2012, 04:45 AM   #2132
Cosmic
Human being with feelings
 
Cosmic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Online
Posts: 4,643
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marah Mag View Post
My guidelines:

1) If you don't have solid isolation between the source you're recording and the monitors through which you're listening to your DAW's output, then record direct. If recording vocals, try to find a reasonably dead space, focus on performance, and just do it. Ditto acoustic gtr and any other through-the-air sources.

2) If you don't have an acoustically treated and tuned room in which to mix, then do the best you can to make your musical intentions & your aesthetic clear, try to find some compromise between how it sounds on whatever common listening devices/environments are available to you (earbuds and computer speakers being the most important IMO), then stop fretting about it and move on to another song.

3) If your goal is to demonstrate your *engineering* skills AND either 1) or especially 2) above apply to you, then get ready for a long and often demoralizing haul.

4) Focus on your strengths and what you can accomplish practically with your current assets.

5) Collaborate.

6) Don't fetishize or chase 'sound'.
I Love You
__________________
it aint worth a bop,if it dont got that pop
Cosmic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2012, 05:51 AM   #2133
shoyoninja
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 431
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zee Wavesurfer View Post
no
Just that something ain't as spontaneous functionality-wise as before.
And that a few (very few people) notice and even fewier spot the 'why'.

Still, it impeaches many people's self-growth.

I posted a line yesterday saying: 'Even a monkey would understand the bass button adds bass after a first inquiry.'
I wonder why I deleted it.
I knew I'd have to expect a few punches saying 'piling up tracks ain't mixing'.
But, thats what we all do now, we pile-up tracks.
Noone mixes. Noone can.
It is only logical to investigate the tools. (I don't exclusively mean Reaper)

Do yourself a favor, consider it MIGHT be. Only MIGHT be.
Worse case scenario: you'll hear it.
Ok, but what is it that you are saying here?

Is there something wrong with the internal mixer on Reaper and other DAWs? What is it?

I have the tools to do a mix both on Reaper and on my analog mixer, are you saying you can tell the difference?

Last edited by shoyoninja; 02-28-2012 at 06:25 AM.
shoyoninja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2012, 07:57 AM   #2134
Zee Wavesurfer
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,588
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by shoyoninja View Post
Is there something wrong with the internal mixer on Reaper and other DAWs? What is it?

I have the tools to do a mix both on Reaper and on my analog mixer, are you saying you can tell the difference?
Yes.
Limitless headroom on single tracks and on the mix.
Yes.
Zee Wavesurfer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2012, 11:35 AM   #2135
Sigilus
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2,763
Default

limitless is a warning-flag word.
Sigilus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2012, 12:10 PM   #2136
shoyoninja
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 431
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zee Wavesurfer View Post
Yes.
Limitless headroom on single tracks and on the mix.
Yes.
Humm, I still dont understand why it is a problem. I understand that we have virtually limitless headroom ITB, yes, but why is it a problem?

If you dont mind sticking around, I am really interested in this and learning about it.

I propose the following experiment:

Using a few old projects I have, of which I still have the original tracks, I could do a new mix (want to redo it anyways and record again the vocals too), both ITB and on the hardware mixer so that we could compare them, and I would like your opinion on them.

Would you agree on helping?

I could not hear a difference before, but I recently upgraded my monitoring system, both headphones and monitors. Still my opinion is that I still should not hear a difference.

A few things that are important:

I usually mix well within the headroom of the converters, usually at max of -12dB peak on the master out. I would do both mixes using this approach.

I would use either the mixer comps/eq/reverb or Reaper comps/eq/reverb to do both mixes. So that it does not influence the results. Which do you think would be better in the experiment?

I would not use automation, since its not an option on my mixer. Manually ride the vocals maybe.

Also I will not do any compression, eq or processing on the master out besides matching the levels for hearing. Will use FLAC for the results.

I will name the files according to how they were made (ITB or hardware), this way we take away the "challenge" thing and we can focus on hearing whats there instead of trying to prove each other wrong. It would be useless anyways since you would have to take my word that I did it the way I have described, not fair.

Are you interested on taking part? Or anyone else?
shoyoninja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2012, 12:30 PM   #2137
Fex
Human being with feelings
 
Fex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Portsmouth, UK
Posts: 3,370
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zee Wavesurfer View Post
Noone mixes. Noone can.
Oh, really?
I thought Bob Clearmountain could mix a bit.
My mistake.
Fex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2012, 12:50 PM   #2138
Sigilus
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2,763
Default

i'm interested in hearing the "difference", shoyo. I agree with you that I expect not to hear it.
Sigilus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2012, 11:31 PM   #2139
brainwreck
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 20,843
Default

Personal musts
  • stop recording to a click
  • find a decent room to record in
  • stop using ampsims
  • find a drummer, stop using virtual drums
  • play the shit out of songs before recording
  • stop trying to mix until after the songs and performances are on
  • transition to getting out of the box
brainwreck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2012, 03:41 AM   #2140
Fex
Human being with feelings
 
Fex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Portsmouth, UK
Posts: 3,370
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by brainwreck View Post
find a drummer, stop using virtual drums
Definitely. You'd probably have to record the drums first, though, if you want to stop recording to a click.... or find a very tolerant drummer. And since you'd need to demo everything for the drummer, you'll basically have to record everything twice.

I think I'll keep recording to a click....
Fex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2012, 09:37 AM   #2141
dea-man
Human being with feelings
 
dea-man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 6,137
Default

Write songs.
__________________
Please check out my REAPER produced music here: http://soundcloud.com/dea-man
dea-man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2012, 12:54 PM   #2142
Fran Guidry
Human being with feelings
 
Fran Guidry's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Walnut Creek, CA
Posts: 779
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by brainwreck View Post
Personal musts
  • stop recording to a click
  • find a decent room to record in
  • stop using ampsims
  • find a drummer, stop using virtual drums
  • play the shit out of songs before recording
  • stop trying to mix until after the songs and performances are on
  • transition to getting out of the box
Do you not recognize that only the last of your suggestions has the slightest deediddly thing to do with recording digitally?

And as for the last, you're stating an opinion, one not shared by thousands of professional engineers, as if it were fact.

What a waste of innocent bits.

Fran
Fran Guidry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-29-2012, 03:06 PM   #2143
brainwreck
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 20,843
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fex View Post
Definitely. You'd probably have to record the drums first, though, if you want to stop recording to a click.... or find a very tolerant drummer. And since you'd need to demo everything for the drummer, you'll basically have to record everything twice.

I think I'll keep recording to a click....
I would want to record along with the drummer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dea-man View Post
Write songs.
Yea, it's too easy to fire up the software and scratch down ideas, twiddle a bunch of knows, and move onto the next idea without finishing anything. When I sit on the back porch with an acoustic guitar and no gadgets, I'm much more productive in writing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fran Guidry View Post
Do you not recognize that only the last of your suggestions has the slightest deediddly thing to do with recording digitally?

And as for the last, you're stating an opinion, one not shared by thousands of professional engineers, as if it were fact.

What a waste of innocent bits.

Fran
For myself, it is all part of the digital workflow.

I'm not suggesting that you or anyone do any of this. Do what you think is right for you. Whatever professionals are doing is irrelevant, if it isn't working for me. I didn't state anything as being fact. I put up a personal list of things that aren't working for me.
brainwreck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2012, 03:47 PM   #2144
experimentfailed
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: USA/Michigan
Posts: 90
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by yep View Post
I keep checking back on this thread every few weeks or so, and keep feeling like it should be locked and un-stickied.

I don't think there has been any useful information for the past 5 pages, maybe ten, and usable content was thinning out rapidly long before that. It's become a picayune debate over the bottomless philosophy of guitar-tone. Nobody is even pretending to discuss anything like "how-to" anymore. The occasionally insightful posts are increasingly abstract things that deserve their own threads. The overwhelming majority of recent posts are a waste of time to even read through.

Nobody on the internet ever concedes a point. They either keep arguing or stop posting. I don't think anyone in the history of internet ever admitted they were wrong, they just move the goalposts or nit-pick at details or accuse each other of personal shortcomings or whatever. IRL, you have to do things, or people just stop listening to you. On the internet, you can always have the top post and get a response just by finding something wrong with the previous one.

This was a good thread for a while. People asked good questions, contributed good insights and useful info, and I am proud to have started the discussion and to have had some part in keeping it going. But the last half of it is really just an uninformative, dead-horse-beating, low-level internet-feud. It's like the same five people posting ever-more wordy and picayune re-statements of the same un-resolvable arguments. The best that can said for it is that people haven't started calling each other "ampfags" nor posting racist pictures with lolcats meme-writing.

This was never a thread about how to make a starter violin sound like a Stradivarius, nor about how to make a garage-sale piano sound like a Steinway, nor about how to make an untrained singer with a reedy voice sound like an operatic mezzo-soprano.

There are topics that have been discussed and debated for thousands of years and that will likely be debated for a thousand more. And some of them are interesting and important.

But in the meantime, somebody has to grow the cotton that makes our underpants, and somebody has to dig up the stuff that makes our computers and iphones, and somebody has to harvest and refine the rubber that makes our tires, and somebody has to record the music that people are actually making. That's what this thread was originally about, how to make better recordings.
I love what you said here... And I quit reading around page 45 (and started skipping ahead a lot before that), as it became clear that the useful information was drying up, past a certain point. HOWEVER, I think a good swing of a moderators fist would be welcomed, lock the topic but keep it sticky, because the first half of the thread was great reading - really, life changing in a lot of ways, for me, and I'm sure a lot of new comers to the forums.

With that, I thank you for your time, Yep! I've really enjoyed what you've shared. I'm putting the knowledge to good use now, and finally rolling out my first EP this summer! Even though a lot of my music is digital, my mixing WAS terrible, but is a lot more sane now, thanks to you and this thread! Though my work is definitely not quite perfect, I'll get a better

To any/all:
I would appreciate any feedback on my mixing work: http://soundcloud.com/experimentfailed (ignore the track Rosegarden as it was my first and will be getting a makeover soon).
experimentfailed is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2012, 07:18 PM   #2145
yep
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,017
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonnyHomes View Post
I just read Zen and the Art of Mixing by "Mixerman" and he raves about mixing in the box (he uses Logic) and then using Dangerous 2-Bus analog summing and he claims that digital summing (in all DAWs) is crap.

I'm quite curios as to what Yep's opinion on this matter is?

~~~

He also claims an analog stereo compressor is essential. Any thoughts?
Short answer:

My opinion is that Lynn Fuston definitely presented the question of analog vs. digital summing with his Awesome DAWsum shootout tests some years back. This was an underrated and oft-overlooked shootout of the highest and most rigorous order, and anyone interested in this stuff should buy the Awesome DAWsum disks and check it out for themselves, if only to encourage more of this kind of rigorous and scientific approach to sussing out subjective differences in audio equipment.

Lynn brought the best gear and some of the best ears in the business into a clinical test to run a digital project through the summing engines of all the major DAWs at the time, plus through a selected list of premium analog consoles (like, $100,000+ analog summing chains). The same mix, rendered through different summing, captured to hi-res 24-bit stereo, as rigorously as possible. Then he conducted blind ABX listening tests with a host of professional recording engineers, plus made the randomized and anonymous files available to the "public" for comparison ("public" meaning people interested enough in engineering and summing to pay $25 for the shootout disc), without revealing which were which for some months. You can and should still buy the test files for like $25 and check for yourself.

Bottom line short version is that, according to both the pros and the engineering public: all major DAW summing sounds the same. Most high-quality analog summing is hard to distinguish from digital, with no clear preference one way or the other. Some analog systems do impart their own sound, but neither the pros nor the public had any clear preference. Individual respondents often had strong preferences, but they tended to cancel each other out and appear mostly random.

In any case, you can judge for yourself, although you can no longer vote, now that the results are public.

Long answer:

Mixerman has always been skeptical of the above sort of shootout or "clinical testing", and somewhat dismissive of any metric other than the subjective experience of skilled and practiced "ears". He also used to swear that digital recording was no good, and he used to call ProTools "Alsihad", as in "All's I had was ProTools, so that's what I had to use". Not in reference to ProTools vs Logic or Reaper or Nuendo or Sonar or whatever, but in the sense of "The only time I will use computers is when there is no tape machine/mixing console."

Within, like, the last 10 years, mixerman would *willingly* edit drums by marking the edit location with a sharpie, on 1" tape as rolled across the tape head, then cutting up the reel of tape with a razor blade and a splicing block, then taping it back together with scotch tape. Even with a $x0,000 PT rig sitting right next to him. Like, that's how opposed he was to digital, that he would do that rather than import to protools.

Then he was big on RADAR for a short while, insisting that it was the only digital platform that actually sounded like tape. Which started to turn a bit ridiculous-- it's one thing to argue that tape has something magical that gets lost in translation to digital, it's another to argue that two identical digital files sound different. And thus began Mixerman's gradual and combative acceptance that it is in fact possible to make good records on a computer.

In short, Mixerman is a great writer, and almost certainly the most entertaining chronicler of what it's like behind the glass. He also does a great job of breaking down the "zen" aspects, the artistry of good engineering and mixing. But he's not a capital-E "engineer" in the sense of someone who understand the math and physics behind circuitry, and he has a history of being a bit of a luddite, and a bit emotional/right-brain/sensual/experiential in his positions.

A big part of what makes him such a great and entertaining writer is his willingness to make bold and categorical statements about subtle and subjective things. He is also, ahem, not always entirely averse to chemical aids to consciousness-enhancement while working. In short, if you are of a disposition to believe that things like the so-called "placebo effect" exist in the expert audiophile world, mixerman is a prime candidate to exhibit some amount of confirmation bias in that respect.

Mixerman has long been, in varying degrees, an ardent and combative proponent of extra-scientific (read: unscientific) theories of how gear contributes to sound. Many of the best recordists, mixers, musicians, and producers are.

My point is not to knock the guy nor even to disagree, just to encourage you to take his proclamations with a grain of salt. On the opposite side of the spectrum you might place a guy like Ethan Winer-- both have contributed a LOT to the literature and the broadening understanding of audio and sound, but Ethan has increasingly tended to take a "technical measurements above all" approach that even capital-E Engineers tend to back off of, suggesting increasingly that sound quality can be easily and objectively measured, indicating that $100 outboard soundblasters are just as good as anything made by anyone.

Ethan Winer has the "science" on his side, to the degree that existing science is capable of measuring things like sound quality.

But not all audiologists, physicists, nor systems engineers would agree with that. The guy who designed the SSL 9000-series consoles (I can't believe I forget his name, I think it's Geoff or Greg or something, but I am sure I have heard him say this stuff, intrepid googlers might find similar quotes...) says somehting like (paraphrasing): "I trust skilled and expert hearing. When a (reputable) musician or engineer says they hear something that I don't see in the measurements, I start second-guessing the measurements, and looking for what they hear."

However, the same guy (I'll remember his name tomorrow and try to find links and quotes or something) has said stuff like (paraphrasing again): "One thing digital is very good at is summing. It's as close to perfect as you can get." and also: "Anything that can be reproduced digitally can, by definition, be produced digitally. There is no such thing as a sound that can be captured on a CD that cannot be digitally produced, because it's just a string of numbers."

In summary, the point is the same I've had all along. I don't want to take sides in this-gear/that-gear disputes. Anything that sounds better is better. But beware those who tell you that this or that piece of gear intrinsically makes better sound in a musically meaningful sense. Make the best sounds you can with what you have to work with. This is not a gear thread.

For my part, when
yep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2012, 08:26 PM   #2146
brainwreck
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 20,843
Default

The way that I'm seeing it, we can't put too much faith in other people's experiences and what they say works for them. Good enough for X engineer, good enough for me? No, I have to look at my own situation and experiences and listen to my own ears. Maybe what I'm doing has very little in common with what X engineer has done, even if I really love his work. Maybe I hear things in a different way than he does. Or, maybe I will end up doing things in such a way that will have very similar results, but arrive by a completely different path. All that we can do is try things for ourselves and see what happens. If we can't trust ourselves to make decisions about this stuff, and accept that we will fail at times, what is the point in doing it at all? This isn't paint by numbers. There can't be any pre-defined musts or must nots. Maybe we have to make it all up for ourselves, even if we end up at the same destination.

And I say that I 'must' not use drum samplers, yet here I am installing another one. Either I will learn my lesson, or it will work for me.
brainwreck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2012, 09:27 PM   #2147
yep
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,017
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by grampazero View Post
Hey people,
Ive been through this thread many times...thanks to all. I certainly read the stuff about headphones, but wanted to pose my question this way: After recording my song using headphones, I have rough mixed -or whatever you want to call it- using headphones, and am really happy with that result. Does that mean that as long as I trust my monitors and know what I WANT, I should be able to get a mix I'm happy with? I appreciate all your responses! thanks.
The question is: are you also happy with the way your mix sounds in the car, through the TV speakers, through a club PA, on laptop speakers, through iPod earbuds, etc, etc.

If the answer is yes, then you're good. If the answer is no, then you might have a problem when it comes to getting people to hear your artistic vision as it is meant to sound.

Honestly, if you make somehting that you are happy with on any playback system, then the purely *artistic* goal has been accomplished. You have achieved the artistic work you intended to, and the fact that you might have to bring people into your studio and play it for them on your headphones is a separate concern.

But I suspect that most artists would not be happy with this-- I doubt whether Michelangelo would have been pleased with the Sistene Chapel if the viewer had to climb up a scaffold and stand in a certain spot to see it as it was meant to be presented.

Regardless of whether or not you like the band AC/DC, their "Back in Black" album is widely regarded, even among classical and jazz music engineers, as something like a "gold standard" of pop recording/engineering/mixing/production. Whether you listen to it on a cheap 1980-era home turntable, a cassette walkman, a stadium PA, a multi-kilobuck audiophile listening room, a million-dollar club system or movie theater, a stock car stereo, a little radio with broadcast processing, iPod earbuds, $600 Sennheiser headphones, or a low-res Youtube hack-job on laptop speakers...

It sounds the way it's supposed to sound. You don't have to like the music to appreciate this.

"Back in Black" was a pivotal record in rock engineering. It's a turning point between the low/mid-heavy, somewhat sloppy, heavily-processed, phase-smeared, expect-the-listener-to-crank-the-volume sound of 60s and 70s rock engineering, versus the tight, focused, clear, phase-coherent, deep-bass, punchy sound on the other.

The difference is night and day, with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin on one side of the divide, and Guns n' Roses and Bon Jovi on the other side. One sounds old-fashioned, the other sounds like it could have been recorded last week, all recorded using similar technology within a span of 10 years or so, with the dividing line some 30 years ago.

Now, "Back in Black" was by no means the first record to take this kind of approach: you can easily find earlier examples of "modern" sounding records in disco and even with stuff like the Clash and the Sex Pistols.

What sets "Back in Black" apart is that it is the first and still one of the best examples of a heavy, "loud"-sounding record that still sounds right at sub-deafening volumes. Moreover, it sounds even better at high volume.

If you put on, say, Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" through a pair of small computer speakers at office-listening volume, you get small, mushy, sloppy sound. It has to be played loud to sound right. If you pause "Kashmir", and, at the same volume, put on "Back in Black", it sounds like ROCK.

Now, you could say the same for any hyper-compressed, over-processed, loudness-maximized, mastering-shredded pop song from the past few years-- Metallica's "Death Magnetic" sounds more or less like it supposed to sound on your crappy little office speakers, and so does Katy Perry. That's what they were made for. But "Death Magnetic" sounds like absolute trash on the sort of high-volume, full-range playback system that Led Zeppelin made records for. Led Zeppelin sounds massive, powerful, and like a rock band is *supposed* to sound at high volume with good playback, but "Death Magnetic" is obnoxiously painful and really unlistenable. It's not too loud, it's just really fucking shrill, ugly, clipped and distorted and artificial-sounding. It doesn't sound like loud drums and guitars, it sounds like trashy toy-store samples turned up to painful volume with too-loud vocals.

"Back in Black" on the other hand, still sounds exactly like stadium-rock should sound, when played at stadium volume. The louder it gets, the better it gets, in terms of sound quality. You might or might not like the music, but it always sounds like it is supposed to, on any playback system.

Understand that I am not particularly an AC/DC "Fan"-- AC/DC is not prominent in any of my playlists nor regular listening. But "Back in Black" is one of my default reference recordings when A/B'ing my own mixes. The point is not to make everything sound like "Back in Black", but to make everything sound sonically appropriate in reference to it. IOW, if I do a record, and if my final mix could sonically fit alongside BiB on a movie soundtrack, then I feel I have mixed it correctly.

Back to the point, the trouble with mixing on headphones is that it becomes easy to make a mix that sounds great on headphones but terrible on everything else. There are a lot of technical and subjective reasons for this, but the point is overriding: If it's only a good mix on a specific set of speakers at a specific volume in a specific environment, then it's not a good mix.

If you make a mix on headphones that sounds awesome in the car, in the bar, on the home stereo, etc, then there is nothing to debate. You won. You did it. But if you make a mix on headphones that sounds wrong, imbalanced, too dry, uneven, and so on...

The point is not to win an argument, the point is to make good records. If you mix something on headphones and it sounds awesome everywhere else, you win. If you mix something on headphones and then feel like you have to apologize or explain the sound in your friend's car, well, apologizing and explaining are valuable skills, but they are not the same as making good sound.
yep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2012, 09:56 PM   #2148
yep
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,017
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by brainwreck View Post
Personal musts
  • stop recording to a click
  • find a decent room to record in
  • stop using ampsims
  • find a drummer, stop using virtual drums
  • play the shit out of songs before recording
  • stop trying to mix until after the songs and performances are on
  • transition to getting out of the box
If I may suggest...
[*]stop recording to a click

Nothing wrong with recording to a click. Get it out of your head that tempo is supposed to be imperfect. Tempo should be *deliberate*, not flawed. Orchestra conductors control tempo and direct dynamics, but the musicians are expected to perform in strict, unquestioning, and machine-like fashion. Their ability to follow such instructions is regarded as a baseline, not an aspiration. They are selected based on their ability to follow instructions with artistry and quality, not vice-versa.
[*]find a decent room to record in

Always a good idea. A place with 12+ foot ceilings and no neighbors to bother is worth everything.
[*]stop using ampsims

My suggestion would be to stop putting these rules on yourself and instead make good sound. Stop using things that sound bad.
[*]find a drummer, stop using virtual drums

Again, see above. When it comes to "real" vs "virtual", it's like having a superpower that allows you to run faster than ten men. Which is as stupid as it sounds. Your drums are as good as they are.
[*]play the shit out of songs before recording

Yes, this. An ounce of pre-production is worth 100 tons of post. The literature is full of hit songs that were recorded in a day, or on the first take. There are hit songs that the artist worked on for years, but almost none that required weeks of fine-tuning before they sounded good. Write a good song, then figure out how to play it, then record it and sweeten it up or whatever. But don't count on "producing" something into awesomeness. That's like counting on scratch tickets to pay the rent.
[*]stop trying to mix until after the songs and performances are on

Yes, this. The song should essentially sound as intended with all the faders at zero and no effects. Make the song sound good first, then make the mix sound good.
[*]transition to getting out of the box

Whatever. Make music that sounds good. Then make the sound better, boxes or no. Nobody ever bought a record or fell in love or danced because they heard a certain brand of mixing console or tape formulation.
yep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2012, 11:28 PM   #2149
yep
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,017
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by brainwreck View Post
The way that I'm seeing it, we can't put too much faith in other people's experiences and what they say works for them. Good enough for X engineer, good enough for me? No, I have to look at my own situation and experiences and listen to my own ears...
I prefer not to put too fine a point on subjective versus objective measurements, but instead to say that subjective quality is what matters, and that objective measurements are useful verification tools. Hopefully, they will tend to agree. Where they diverge is where to carefully examine for possible mistakes.
yep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2012, 12:33 AM   #2150
pipelineaudio
Mortal
 
pipelineaudio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Wickenburg, Arizona
Posts: 13,513
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by yep View Post
My suggestion would be to stop putting these rules on yourself and instead make good sound. Stop using things that sound bad.
What yep said

I've heard songs made with single shots and worse that sounded real enough.

If the sounds you are getting are even an issue, its usually a sign the music itself is the problem
__________________
REAPER Shirts are Back! - https://shop.spreadshirt.com/pipelineaudio/
pipelineaudio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-05-2012, 06:25 PM   #2151
Lobsterinn
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 17
Default

@ Yep:

I just wanted to say thanks for the considerable effort and skilled explanations you have provided in this thread. I have been at this long enough to have learned most of these lessons the hard way. If this kind of clear-headed advice had been available to me when I was starting out I could have avoided many headaches and costly dead ends.

You have re-inspired me to organize my studio better, to monitor even quieter, and have otherwise helped me focus many vague intuitions into coherent statements - even on subjects I don't 100% agree with you.

If you are ever in Portland, I owe you a beer.


Pleasantries aside...as a bass player / drummer I find sloppy or ill-considered timing to be the most damning thing about many 'amateur' recordings. I have a few related suggestions which some might find useful:

-As much as you want your headphone mix quiet for recording vocals (helps with pitch), you want them loud for tracking percussion and rhythmic overdubs. Just like it is easy to play in the pocket when standing next to a drummer's kick drum, it is much easier to feel the groove in your bones rather than listen for it. Obviously, closed 'phones are best for this. Then listen to playback at a low volume.

-Give yourself plenty of time for percussion overdubs. You can't just throw stuff on at the last minute as an afterthought. A well-played tambourine track can make or break a song. Just like backup vocals, percussion elements need to be on the money or they just suck life out of your production.

-Percussion (and any rhythm-heavy part) should be monitored as loud as it is intended to be in the final mix. The feel changes relative to volume. I don't know the science behind this, but ahead of the beat and loud works much better than draggy and loud. Try it out.

-If you are using quantized midi instruments or samples (or not), don't be afraid to nudge waveforms a few milliseconds early or late and see if it improves the feel. Most skilled musicians do this stuff on instinct, like playing percussion slightly ahead of the beat, and bass slightly behind. No hard rules with this, but it is pretty rare that everything sounds best right on the beat.

-Don't just line up waveforms if you need to edit timing. If a section feels off, nudge the offending instrument each direction and see if it is better by ear. If you can't tell, then zero in on a section which feels good, and try nudging your problem section closer to that.

-Transient processing can be really powerful when used in small amounts, especially in dense mixes.

-HP and LP filters can change where something sits in the grove for better or worse. Another reason to not eq things when soloed.

-All musicians and recording engineers will benefit from learning to play the drums. After I play for a bit, I find even my sense of singing pitch improves. Something about asking your body and mind to work in concentrated effort helps unlock something very useful.

-Move your body to the beat (i.e. dance - it doesn't have to be dance music) when you think you might be done with your mix. Audition a couple of last minute eq moves or compressor adjustments this way. You should feel when you are closer to the mark.
Lobsterinn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2012, 03:36 AM   #2152
ivansc
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Near Cambridge UK and Near Questembert, France
Posts: 19,316
Default

Oh YES! Learn to play WITH OTHER PEOPLE is the mantra everyone should follow.

Nowadays in the UK there are very few places for up-and-coming (or even down and going) bands to play out any more.
This is slowly but surely translating into the existence of an awful lot of great players who suck at playing with others.

All the hops in the world will not help you create good ensemble music unless you spend a LOT of time playing with others and actually listening to what is going on.
P.S. Always try and start out as the worst player in every band you join.
ivansc is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2012, 09:25 PM   #2153
yep
Human being with feelings
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,017
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ivansc View Post
Oh YES! Learn to play WITH OTHER PEOPLE is the mantra everyone should follow.

Nowadays in the UK there are very few places for up-and-coming (or even down and going) bands to play out any more.
This is slowly but surely translating into the existence of an awful lot of great players who suck at playing with others.

All the hops in the world will not help you create good ensemble music unless you spend a LOT of time playing with others and actually listening to what is going on.
P.S. Always try and start out as the worst player in every band you join.
It's not just the UK.

Spinning records (or digital files) is vastly cheaper and easier to manage than hiring a live band. Not only is a DJ cheaper (since it's just one guy), it's often "better", since a DJ can, say, spin the best drum loops and basslines and so on from the past 50 years. A live band is limited to the individual musicians that are actually onstage, but a DJ gets to pick from the entire history of recorded music.

My personal opinion is that the looping/DJ/recording culture will force actual "real" musicians to return to levels of artistic ambition that were once regarded as old-fashioned. The difference between a DJ looping a Ramones verse and the Ramones actually playing it is probably so small as to be imperceptible to most people. "Second verse, same as the first" and so on.

The best music made by man is varied and complex. An old rule of thumb is that you can repeat something once, but the next repetition requires a variation. Just repeating the same thing over and over evidences a lack of imagination. This principle is found not just in compositional rules, but in top-40 production techniques, where loops and effects are brought into and out of the record.

Whether dumb or smart, one repetition establishes a theme, and framework against which the listener will hear the music. Three, four, or more repetitions just constitute a loop-- the listener is hearing the same thing over and over, and the difference between actual musicians or looped samples is trivial.

Modern top 40 hits almost never have three consecutive identical measures, and neither do the good "classical" works. You can repeat a thing in order to establish the baseline for the next variation, but you can't just loop it over and over and expect the 12th repetition to have the same meaning as the second.

A small handful of classic songs are built around steady-state repeating riffs/motifs: Link Wray's "Rumble", Velvet Underground's "Heroin", various early rap, etc. But for the most part, playing the same thing over and over again is not a whole lot better than triggering loops, neither of which is very compelling, musically.

Probably 95% of the stuff I encounter is the sort of bad, steady-state, verse-chorus, AAAA-BBBB-AAAA, doing the same thing over and over with no development or progression. I can make that sound good. I can mute the guitars and hyper-compress the vocals on the first verse to make it sound like a loud whisper, then open up the faders on verse two to get the guitar riff cranking, then, on verse 3, mute the guitar and drums and crank up the bassline and hi-hat and distort the vocal for a slamming artificial sound, then bring it all back together for a neo-broadway-sounding finale.

What I cannot do is make that a record worth listening to. I can make it *sound* good, but I cannot make it *be* good.

My point in this thread is a separate one. I'm not qualified to tell anyone how to make good music. That is an entirely different conversation.

What I think I *can* help with is how to polish the pieces.
yep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2012, 09:59 PM   #2154
Otto Tune
Human being with feelings
 
Otto Tune's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Mountain
Posts: 132
Default

"A small handful of classic songs are built around steady-state repeating riffs/motifs: Link Wray's "Rumble", Velvet Underground's "Heroin", various early rap, etc."

Tribe Called Quest's "Buggin Out" has a super subtle variation -- that I can almost listen to for as long as I can listen to Hendrix play "Like a Rolling Stone," but not quite.

"I can mute the guitars and hyper-compress the vocals on the first verse to make it sound like a loud whisper, then open up the faders on verse two to get the guitar riff cranking, then, on verse 3, mute the guitar and drums and crank up the bassline and hi-hat and distort the vocal for a slamming artificial sound, then bring it all back together for a neo-broadway-sounding finale."

For us recording 4 or 8 tracks or more in a room, the near- and far-field posts were spot on.

Also, just for the record, I'm not sure a single phrase beat or bar was repeated in that VU song or that Link Wray one.
Otto Tune is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2012, 10:31 PM   #2155
Marah Mag
Human being with feelings
 
Marah Mag's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Here
Posts: 3,000
Default

heroin by the velvets has a very nicely articulated structural development across its 7 minutes , even though it's only 2 chords. The drums and viola (Maureen Tucker and John Cale, respectively) play a big part in that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xcwt9mSbYE
Marah Mag is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2012, 10:49 PM   #2156
Otto Tune
Human being with feelings
 
Otto Tune's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Mountain
Posts: 132
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marah Mag View Post
heroin by the velvets has a very nicely articulated structural development across its 7 minutes , even though it's only 2 chords. The drums and viola (Maureen Tucker and John Cale, respectively) play a big part in that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xcwt9mSbYE
L-C-R right there, mostly. That 4:47 or so; I used to hear that as a guitar--but it's a viola, yeah? Maureen Tucker killed on drums.
Otto Tune is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2012, 11:18 PM   #2157
Smurf
Human being with feelings
 
Smurf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,173
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by yep View Post
I can make it *sound* good, but I cannot make it *be* good.
I have thought / said this SO many times the last 2 years...
__________________
Yep's First 3 Years in PDF's
HP Z600 w/3GHz 12 Core, 48GB Memory, nVidia Quadro 5800, 240GB SSD OS drive, 3 480GB SSD Sample/Storage drives, 18TB External Storage, Dual 27" Monitors
Smurf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2012, 11:22 PM   #2158
Marah Mag
Human being with feelings
 
Marah Mag's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Here
Posts: 3,000
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto Tune View Post
L-C-R right there, mostly. That 4:47 or so; I used to hear that as a guitar--but it's a viola, yeah? Maureen Tucker killed on drums.
Electric viola.

I've always found it effective when the drums drop out at 6:20. I always thought she just stopped playing, but listening just now, you can hear... quite clearly, actually... that it's being faded, and fairly slowly at that, like maybe with some uncertainty.

It's stunning how much musical DNA is that record.
Marah Mag is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2012, 11:30 PM   #2159
Marah Mag
Human being with feelings
 
Marah Mag's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Here
Posts: 3,000
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lobsterinn View Post

-All musicians and recording engineers will benefit from learning to play the drums. After I play for a bit, I find even my sense of singing pitch improves. Something about asking your body and mind to work in concentrated effort helps unlock something very useful.
I have found that cooking, and balancing spice mixtures in particular, has also helped me musically. Odd as that might initially seem, it's not really odd at all.
Marah Mag is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-09-2012, 06:28 AM   #2160
Fex
Human being with feelings
 
Fex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Portsmouth, UK
Posts: 3,370
Default

YouTube, SchmouTube. Listen to Heroin late at night, with the lights off.
Fex is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:06 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.