1. David Porter

    David Porter Well-Known Member

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    Your regular activity and contributions to this forum are mucho appreciated! So glad you found us.

    For clarity's sake.... from your SOP thread:

    Am I to understand that you will take groups of performance data and make sub-mixes, ie.:

    1) drums all mixed to a stereo pair - and add mastering effects - and then send that back to an open stereo pair

    2) perhaps multiple guitar parts (harmonies or whatever) mixed to a stereo pair - add mastering effects - and then send those back to an open stereo pair of their own

    3) perhaps piano and bass mixed together to a stereo pair - add mastering effects - and then push those back to another stereo pair....

    ...and then make your final mix of these different groupings with the mastering effects already done? Is that right? Or close?
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  2. -mjk-

    -mjk- Well-Known Member

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    Hi David. Whoa! I do not deserve my own thread! Lol It is I that appreciate being able to participate in this forum, and all the more so as I interact with the kind and courteous people here and gentlemen like you.

    The short answer to your questions is basically yes. I know what I want and have several decades experience behind the desk, so I am crafting sub-mixes which resemble the final result as closely as reasonable given the limits of the DP-32. Plans for a real studio went on hold due to a high opportunity loss I suffered this year, but arrangements were in place for the world's leading studio designer to build me a room. So I really have no business trying to mix in my makeshift room I'm using for tracking. I may be able to move forward on the new room in 2019.

    Example: I did 4 tracks of a clean electric guitar, plus 2 tracks doing single note lines. I used mixdown mode and applied all the processing I wanted, 3 tracks each, L/R. Then I ran the mastering triband compression and optimised the crossover points, attack/release, threshold, etc. specifically for guitar. This is the only way I can get such control over the tracks. There is no other way to apply multiband compression (I mean to say the internal compression that is). Once recorded as a submix, as you said, I just import back to the machine. Those particular guitar tracks now have that "sounds like a record" feel to them. There should be no need for further mix management other than levels.

    All this comes from working without console automaton. I spent the time up front so I wouldn't have to do it later. That also freed up much of my outboard gear for the mix. I recorded the vocals with the LA2 and Pultec, so they were there for other things at mixdown, for example.

    Of course, all that went out the window when I was hired simply to engineer the recordings for another producer. I just cut dry individual tracks in that case.

    Drums: In the old days it was 7 to 10 tracks, with toms subbed to 2. Then later came sound modules with individual outputs, and that eliminated crosstalk. But my Roland DR-880 only has (in addition to optical digital) 2 stereo outputs and 2 individual jacks, A and B. One can route the kick, snare and bass instruments to the A/B outs, but not the toms, hat/cymbals and percussion. But, the machine has effects, EQ and compression, instrument levels and cool stuff like snare tuning (no more Eventide harmonizer on the snare!). So, at the end of the day, I can get a very good sound out of 2 tracks, and it all gets mixed down to stereo anyway. I get it as close as possible out of the machine, and then do my mixdown/compression stuff on that. My philosophy is "If I can mix it later, why not now"?

    "But how do you know it will fit with the final mix?" Good question. Years ago, I learned a very important production lesson: Do drums last, not first! I actually set up a very close approximation to the final mix and then mute everything but the drums. Then I record the mixdown of drums, and, of course it fits right into the mix. One does have to be diligent about multiple processing, but I'm aware of that and can deal with it.

    If you would like to hear some clips of what I'm doing I'd be to happy to set up a Google Drive folder for you.

    Take care David.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
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  3. David Porter

    David Porter Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much for your detailed response. I have soooo much to learn. Would love to be a fly on the wall while you work.

    On a related note - I bought myself a Christmas present in the form of a LA-2A clone (the Warm Audio WA-2A to be specific). I expect it to arrive later today, in fact. I bought it to improve vocal and acoustic guitar tracks... but I was wondering: could it be useful in running my entire mix through? Thoughts on that?
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  4. -mjk-

    -mjk- Well-Known Member

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    David, you're no noob yourself, and I'm learning a lot from your posts.

    Absolutely yes! I had a pair of them and I would use them as a mix leveler when appropriate. Let me tell you what it's useful for (if I can articulate it that is!) by way of an example:

    The Lexicon Primetime 2 has a "dynamic recirculation" control, which holds down the level of the repeat tails when there is an input signal present. So, you could add a really hot delay on a vocal track, set the DRC and forget riding the delay returns. When the singer (or whatever) was singing, the level of the delay returns was reduced by the amount set by the DRC control. At the end of a sung line (the singer stops singing), the repeat tails come back up to the max level you set. So, the delay is there but never actually interferes with the intelligence of the vocal or instrument because the return levels are dynamic. Man, it was great on guitar solos too! Huge delay effect but no interference. Now, why is this relevant?

    The LA-2A tends to make the mix thicker and magically seems to increase intelligibility by backing off peaks that can obliterate subtle details. You'll have to try it, but it's somewhat like the DRC on the whole mix. It doesn't work in every situation, but, with the right type of program material, it can really make the mix shine, and the tube amp adds so much warmth. I recommend that you play your favorite CD through it with the gain reduction set at zero to start, and then slowly crank it up. You'll be amazed at how it thickens the mix. It's pure magic on acoustic guitar, real piano, violins and cellos. And I wouldn't record a singer without it in the chain immediately after the Pultec. I've used them on trumpets, sax, trombones.... It straightens out the timbral variations in horn tracks caused by changes in the amount of air it takes to blow certain notes. That upper register blare you might get from a trumpet can be reigned in with an LA-2A. So, that means your EQ you applied to the trumpet track works better because it's more consistent regardless of the register.

    I could go on all day about that device. I've often said I could record anything with a U-67 and an LA-2A.

    You are going to have a blast with it, David! Please let me know your impressions after you check out it!
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  5. David Porter

    David Porter Well-Known Member

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    Sure will, friend. Thanks for your input! Much appreciated.
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  6. -mjk-

    -mjk- Well-Known Member

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    OK! Here goes!

    From what I've been reading, apparently there is some interest in how I do my sub-mixes, and what can actually be achieved by doing them. It is worth the effort? Does it make a difference in the final results? Good questions. Example clips always allow the listener to make their own call. Please ask anything else you'd like to know.

    I may be totally full of of you-know-what, but here is a sample clip with my comments that try to explain this particular audio design goal that I had when processing this clean guitar submix.

    The subject of this example is the clean electric guitar tracks submix. When this example clip was created, the sub-mixed tracks had no additional effects or EQ applied to them at mixdown. (Edit: I did apply Mastering compression on the whole mix - I neglected to mention that). They sound like this in the machine, soloed. Everything was done to these tracks in Mixdown mode as a separate mix session, after which I applied Mastering effects. I specifically optimized the multi-band compression and EQ for these tracks only. Then I imported the finished 2-mix tracks to a stereo track pair in the DP-32.

    Dropbox Link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2cqr4fmc2z1bt5r/CleanBreathGuitar.wav?dl=0

    "Clean Breath Guitar" Composition of Tracks:

    There are a total of 6 tracks in the submix. 4 tracks are playing the identical arpeggiated chords, and 2 tracks are playing single note lines. Panning: 1 Line and 2 Arpeggiated per channel, hard panned L/R.

    The referenced clip has 3 sections, and I'll address those following. Up front I need to make some things clear:

    1. This is NOT a final mix (by any means!). It has not been optimized per my SOP yet. Some tracks have been, but not all. It is still peaky, but, mainly because of #2.

    2. Drums are for reference only. They are a repeating pattern for time-keeping. I will record the final drum parts last, after I do the vocal tracks, so I can play around them and accentuate rather than interfere with them and other parts.

    3. Bass track is junk! I'm not a bass player. My friend will do the final bass. Please ignore it.

    Clip sections and my comments:

    Section 1. Song opening line, bass and clean guitar only. There is nothing there except those 2 instruments, until the first drum hit comes in, so if not large sounding, at least it has to be interesting enough to hold attention for a few seconds. Notice how it doesn't sound like someone just hit a guitar chord and let it ring. There is movement and it's not obvious movement, like a chorus insert effect. It sounds like the guitar is breathing (or as I've heard people describe it is as "slowly spinning"). It somewhat resembles when a human sings a line, and then takes a breath for the next line, but that may be an exaggeration. However you define it, if this effect were missing, it would be a flat, very uninteresting, and IMO, un-listenable introduction to the song. This effect is extremely subtle, but it definitely gives it that "sounds like a record" feeling. When the drums come in, the guitar takes a step back into the mix, and that subtle movement makes a nice bed for the vocal to lie on. There is only bass, drums and guitar, but IMO, it doesn't need any more than that under the vocal (that is, in the first verse).

    Section 2: Outro of First Chorus and transition to repeat of opening line, and transition to Second Chorus. Perhaps one of the most important sections of this song, it takes us from the higher energy level Chorus back to the familiar opening line. Again, the subtle movement heard in the clean guitars makes it stand on its own. Otherwise, it's just a guy hitting a chord. When the rhythm guitars come in, they are very basic sounding (purposefully so) and the subtle movement of the clean guitars underneath forms a very nice bed for them, and also the vocal track. The time-based processing makes the clean guitars sound like they are behind the rhythm guitars. The clean guitars are playing arpeggiated chords with lots of individual notes but it doesn't interfere with the guitars out front (and presumably for the vocal track - at least that's the theory!).

    Section 3. Transition from Second Chorus in the Bridge. The all-important 2nd Chorus is very high energy, and going to the Bridge may be disappointing if not managed well (because it's going to a lower energy section). (Note: The lead guitar lines in the Bridge are missing) Rather than compete with the 2nd Chorus on energy level the Bridge make a scene change and we have our basic rhythm guitar tracks with the clean guitar lines and their subtle movement underneath.

    ---

    Everything I did on my clean guitar submix was done with the foreknowledge of how the song is supposed to sound when mixed. Be careful, however! Too much pre-processing can really goof up the final Mastering - so beware of getting into a double-processing loop! That being said, I cannot emphasize enough how important pre-production recordings are! I do pre-production sessions on everything! It's my scratchpad and I do any crazy thing I want there. I did many takes both of the performances, and of the submix before I got it just how I wanted. I did not just walk over to the machine and do this. So, please don't get into the habit of thinking that everything you lay down must be gold! Remember, Queen is reputed to have used more recording tape than any other band in the world, and the majority of those takes are sitting in the boxes on shelves somewhere. The take home is this: the machine erases equally as well as it records.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please post your questions and comments!
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018 at 3:43 AM
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  7. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Well-Known Member

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    :):) Listening on my reference system using two high-end headphones, AKG K701 (reference cans for details) and Audeze Sine planar magnetic audiophile cans for musicality). I've got your clip on a loop right now. Really nice work, mj!
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  8. -mjk-

    -mjk- Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Mark. The question is, do you hear what I've described, or am I really full of it? Lol
  9. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Well-Known Member

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    My audio room shares a common wall with one of my neighbors. Listening over speakers at an appropriate volume for evaluation isn't an option for me. I record, mix and master at volumes no higher than 75dB (actually a good thing) and rely on my reference headphones for critical listening.

    So, the following comments are based on headphone listening (AKG K701 reference cans and Audeze Sine audiophile cans). With that caveat, this is what I'm hearing:

    At higher volume, I hear a subtle pulsing in/out. At lower volume I hear more of a "slowly spinning" effect on each side and these are apparent with both headphones.

    Either way, the effect is definitely more interesting (a sonic "hook"), and makes me want to hear more of the song. The guitar sound is very clean, so I'd say the result is worth the extra effort to submix/master.

    The sound stage I envision using both the headphones is:
    • The drums in their own open space centered and elevated slightly above the guitars;
    • The guitars forming a semi-circle back to front on either side of the drums ;
    • The guitars at some distance from the drums in the center of the stage;
    • The bass behind the drums.

    Hope this might be helpful to you.
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  10. -mjk-

    -mjk- Well-Known Member

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    Mark, the whole point is the sonic hook as you said. The same technique can be applied to vocals, with uncanny results.

    So have fun with Mastering submixes!
  11. David Porter

    David Porter Well-Known Member

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    I've got a lot going on right now - but I will come back and take a look/listen when I have time.
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  12. -mjk-

    -mjk- Well-Known Member

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    No rush David. I'll leave the file there for now. Thanks.
  13. -mjk-

    -mjk- Well-Known Member

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    Mark, the reason that the effect is so subtle, and not immediately obvious, like a chorus, is because each track in the submix has something different about it.

    Believe it or not, I used a guitar amp simulator in my Roland DR-880 drum machine, the patch called Warm Clean. The patch is very configurable, and I specifically adjusted the speed and depth of the chorus of each pass so it would be slightly different from the previous track. I did not record the track in stereo. I only used the left channel output and recorded all six tracks as mono tracks. I made the depth of the chorus very shallow, and the speed very slow, but with each pass I goosed it a bit, either way. So, the tracks work against each other, but since the effect is different on each track, when combined together, it doesn't sound at all like a wash across all the tracks, which a stereo chorus would. There is no single time base for the effect since all the tracks are different, so it's significantly more random, and therefore "real" sounding. In the submix, I used an echo-reverb preset on the TC-Helicon and matched the tempo of the song for the echo repeat tails and adjusted the feedback and reverb time to my liking.

    When I made the mixdown for the clip, I did use the Mastering compression afterwards, so I may have inadvertently been misleading as I forgot to mention that. It's on the whole mix for the clip of course. If you would like to hear just the guitar tracks exported from the multitrack, I can do that too.
  14. -mjk-

    -mjk- Well-Known Member

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    Hi David. Do you have any new experiences with the new toy that you could share?
  15. -mjk-

    -mjk- Well-Known Member

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    An issue that I'm observing is that some users apparently think that once they Mixdown and Master, that's it, and they are stuck with that result whether or not it meets their expectations. One has to think in 3D. This is not a 2D forward-only process. You can run your work through the machine several times in different ways to accomplish what you need.

    In the old analog tape days, sometimes, when reviewing different Mixdown takes, we'd find that we liked version A's Intro, B's Verse, D's Chorus, and C's Solo sections. I'd get out the razor blade and spend hours with long pieces of tape wound on other reels as I spooled off unwanted sections so I could splice in another spooled section. I'd have spools all over the control room, marked with grease pencil. Finally, I'd have a "Frankenstein" final mix ( which is exactly how the famous song of that name acquired that name).

    Doing that on the DP machine is ridiculously easy. So? Practically speaking, why does that help us?

    The DP machines have no automaton, so complicated mixes are difficult. But you do not have to mix the song in its entirety from start to finish. As long as you start every Mixdown session and use the same In and Out points, and run it all the way to the end until it shuts off by itself, any Mixdown tracks that you make will all be the same exact length. This means, that you could set up the mix specifically for song sections and then cut those sections out into an assembly.

    For clarity, let me make a little operational illustration.

    In Mixdown mode, spend time applying FX EQ etc. whatever you want to get only the introduction of the song absolutely perfect. Don't concern yourself with any part of the song except the introduction. Practice the mix moves that you need to do until you're confident that you have only the introduction section as good as it possibly can get, press record and let it run all the way to the end. Copy that file into a folder in your computer, and rename it to Intro.

    While still in Mixdown mode, now concentrate on the first verse of the song only. Apply FX, etc. the way you need them to sound on the verse, or verses. Do a mixdown where you ignore the previous intro, and concentrate on only mixing the verse sections as perfectly as you can. Copy and name that file Verse. Do the same with the bridge, chorus, solo, ending/fade out, until you have a collection of tracks that represent a perfectly mixed song, but in pieces.

    Reset the machine to a normaled state (See Phil Tipping's video), and create a song with the same resolution of the song you just mixed, and call it whatever you want. From your PC, copy all those song parts into the Audio Depot. Import all of those files into the stereo tracks on the DP machine. Remember that you have virtual tracks too.

    Since you used the same In and Out set points for each recorded section, they will all line up perfectly. Now, you can really start to have fun! Play your perfect intro, and then quickly switch to your perfect verse. At this point, you have a couple of options. You could use the In and Out set points and copy paste and take snippets of these tracks and assemble them onto an open track. Or, if your mix is rather simple you may be able to do a new mixdown simply muting and unmuting the different sections as required.

    Once you have a complete track put together, press record and let it run to make a new mixdown file (don't forget to set your In and Out points the same as the original). Now you can experiment with different Mastering options on your perfect mix. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from doing the process over with Mastered tracks because Mastering is a dynamic process like mixing. You might have to hit a loud chorus a little harder with the limiting, than you might for a softer verse. So there's nothing wrong with cutting together mastered sections too.

    And that's my professional production tip for today.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018 at 5:54 AM