TMV Partners

You are not logged in.


Announcement

GO HERE: www.TheModernVocalistWorld.com

ATTENTION TMV WORLD FORUM MEMBERS! YOU NEED TO GO LOGIN AND/OR REGISTER AT THE NEW AND IMPROVED TMV WORLD FORUM SYSTEM.



CLICK THIS LINK TO GO TO THE NEW FORUM. WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT THE NEW FORUM, LOGIN OR REGISTER AND THEN CLICK ON "GETTING STARTED". ALL OF THE POSTS AND TOPICS HAVE BEEN MIGRATED OVER AND EXISTING MEMBERS WILL BE LINKED BACK TO ALL THEIR POSTS IN THE NEW SYSTEM AFTER YOU LOGIN.

www.TheModernVocalistWorld.com

IF YOU ARE A NEW VISITOR THAT JUST JOINED US, YOU ARE INVITED TO COME OVER TO OUR NEW FORUM SYSTEM. CLICK THIS LINK TO GO THERE AND REGISTER.

www.TheModernVocalistWorld.com

Adverts

#1 2014-07-06 15:30:40

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

The Mix

David has an awesome thread about the basics of vocal recording. Basic needs of hardware, software, and basics of input mechanics, how to set levels of recording, the most primary and important part. If input is crap, output will be crap, regardless of all the plug-in effects and editing you can do. This is my attempt at talking about the editing, the next step.

My earlier complaints about Audacity not allowing flexibility of editing within one track were inaccurate and merely show my ineptitude. And even though most of my explanations might now refer to that DAW, I did not title this thread as how to use Audacity but more to how we are going to apply the processes of editing and why.

I am not an expert and formerly, it seemed that my mixes sounded like they came out of an AM radio. I wonder how much of that is influenced by my first car, a 1968 Mustang with the original Philco am radio. :)

But, to me, editing, what everyone calls mixing, is more about value judgements. Maybe it's called mixing because you are blending elements, much as you might mix ingredients in a recipe.

I have learned that in Audacity, you can apply an effect to just a section of a track, if you want. Now, to avoid an audible switch between effect and no effect, you can also do a fade in and fade out at the ends of that snippet. You don't have to dupe that section to another track unless you want to do so. That makes it very flexible for me. And Audacity comes with most of the standard and common plug-in effects you will need, such as eq, reverb, echo, compressor, amplify (which can be used with pinpoint accuracy to lower the volume of an errant note clipping. Highlight the brief moment in time and choose for amplify, - 3 dB.) So, whatever DAW you use, there are youtube vids on how to do these functions and examples and samples. This guy from Newfoundland makes a song out of the english alphabet and some beat box of his own making across a few tracks to create rhythm. Simple things I had glossed over. First, set a marker in the recording where you are trying to edit. Then magnifying glass to blow it up. Then, time shift the second track to line up.

Any DAW produces latency. And adjusting latency down does not always help. Make it too short and you will have skips because there is not enough time for the playback to get everything. For the most part, you do not have to adjust latency in the DAW if you have an interface with direct monitor. There will still be some minor latency that you adjust with time-shift and a tempo change, usually .01 percent.

Point being, take the time to do that.

But more importantly, for the purpose of what I am trying to write, here. What are the values we go by in mixing a recording? One of the best things I have heard is to treat the music as a 3-D visualization. Width, depth, height. And you can place different instruments in different places, aurally. The stereo field. Not only can you pan two voices apart from each other but you can reduce volume on one and also add reverb to that, which has the effect of making the second voice seem like it is behind the first voice. This is called placing it back in the mix. All you have really done is lower volume, changed pan, and added a decaying sound to it but the "effect" is what counts.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

2014-07-06 15:30:40

AdBot
Advertisements

#2 2014-07-06 16:00:42

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

What aesthetic values do we apply to a recording? This is a singer's forum, rather than a record producer's forum. As such, we all, including me, tend to mix a recording kind of vocal-heavy. Understandable, as we are highlighting the human voice and what we can do with it. But in a more professional recording, such as my brother's album, the voice is another instrument, not just the only instrument. As such, we should have a sense of aesthetics for whatever genre we are recording in to "place" the voice accordingly. Some styles, such as folk music from Dan Fogelberg or Josh Groban are soft ballads, which are vocal prominent. The style, itself, puts the voice up front.

As opposed to any of Yngwie Malmsteen's albums, which are all about the guitar. Specifically, his guitar. And like Robert Lunte, for example, I just prefer music that has singing, especially good singing. That being said, I have a few Malmsteen albums. I especially liked his album of covers with many guest singers. That's probably because I identify most with singing, at least since 1988. That is when I decided I was more a singer who plays guitar than a guitarist who sings. And some will say, well, you can have a balance of both. And yes, you can. And my balance tips more to one side. And it's not that I cannot be the next Malmsteen. I could be, if I wanted to do so. And others may want that and more power to them. There is nothing wrong with defining what YOU want and then seeking to achieve it.

Balance in a recording. It is not about having all volume levels exactly the same in dB levels, though that can happen. To me, balance is about having certain things in prominence at certain times. For example, notching a backing track for human voice. Generally, all voices achieve their brightness through either fundamental freq's for a high voice, or overtones and/or partials in other voices that are in the range around 2 to 2.5 kHz. So, one way to get a voice "in the mix," rather than on top of it, is to reduce the eq around the 2.5 kHz area in the backing track. I would go one step further and say, do that to the backing track only where the vocals are and leave the rest alone, for there are other instruments, usually guitar, that have good and need tones around there and if you notch the entire track, that can sound odd, too.

Which takes time and patience. And Bzean linked in an awesome tutorial from an online course to be audited about the apparent volume perception based on the functions of the human ear. In so many words, a sound that is actually lower in volume than neighboring tracks can still have apparent volume and prominence because of where the sweet spot of the human ear is.

And maybe as a survival thing, as mentioned in other threads, human ears are really responsive to the 2 to 3 kHz range and you can use that to "dial" in and out a vocal, depending on what you are trying to achieve.

You can also clean up a recording with filtering, Roll off at 100 Hz, Roll off at about 10 kHz. 99 percent of all humans and their media players fall within this range of reproduction and perception. The rest is "waste" product often providing only rumble or noise that usually detracts from the recording.

In the other thread, David talks about the basic mechanical functions. And, in another awesome thread, Felipe talked about having a solid vocal performance before recording. If you are already know what you are going to do with a vocal line and have it down, solid, then the rest of is click and record. And, to that end, it is okay to record in steps. Absolutely everyone makes mistakes. From Rob Halford to Ronnie James Dio to me, ronws the redneck.

The quickest way to record in spite of this is to back up to where you made the mistake and start from there, rather than doing the whole track over again. And it is not dishonest. Because of one simple fact. Record producers know this, a number of opera singers know this (I have a book of interviews from 40 of the greatest opera singers) and my own experience and even intimated by David's point about making as many as 6 or more tracks of vocals. You never sing the same way twice.

No one does and it is not a matter of technique or practice or skill. It is a fact of life. And the reason for compositing the track is this. Yes, you did it better the second time around on the second chorus. Your ability was never in doubt. But leaving in a problematic section, as I have done, leaves people to believe you do have a problem. Mainly because you have preserved for all time, that one problem at that one instance in time.

Or, you did the whole track great except for one section. In audacity, I can choose a recording starting point, start a new track and re-sing and record just that one section. Then, go back to original vocal track and highlight just the section I am replace and create "silence." In playback and export to mp3, you will only hear the better version.

It doesn't matter if I could sing the whole song live without a mistake. I have a mistake in the recording, so fix the recording.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#3 2014-07-12 15:13:56

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

There are a bunch of recording books that can tell you the general frequencies you may want to enhance or attenuate and I won't list them here. But the long story short is that you mix by ear.

However, you have to have a good set of ears and some powers of discrepancy and the ability analyze what you are hearing. Often, the advice of professional producers is to keep around as reference a few cd's or files of songs that have the whole general sound that you like.

For example, let's say that you AC/DC's blockbuster album, Highway to Hell. First off, look at the liner notes and see the producer credits. You will find it is Robert "Mutt" Lange from South Africa.

So, you might want to listen to a few more of his efforts, such as Def Leppard's "Pyromania." And listen to the different sound values in each. Highway to Hell is very up front and minimal tracking. Pyromania is layered tracks, the drums recorded in a large room with some slapback echo.

Now, rather than try to recreate the exact values he had on an analog board in the late 70's and early 80's, use the songs as a sound ideal.

And then, you have to just experiment until you achieve the same sound. And that is why an album, especially a pro album takes so long. Recording doesn't take much time at all if the songs are already written and have a basic structure. You may add some things after recording starts. The longest time is in mixing. Because the brain gets saturated with all the sound and you have to get away from it and get some fresh perspective.

And maybe my ideas on this are more usable in original songwriting and recording. In this forum, a number of people do many covers, sometimes, tributes. The idea, then, is to recreate as much as possible, the original vocal line and sound and values. And without having the notes of the original producer, that can be tough to recreate. However, if a cover, there is certainly nothing wrong with changing some of the values you have in editing.

To a large extent, how you record and edit the song is as much an art form and expression of art as is the original song and its intention. And is a skill set all of it's own.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#4 2014-07-12 15:50:14

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

This forum is decidely dedicated to perfecting as much as possible our craft of singing. Whatever form or direction that perfection takes. I also value this section on recording because of a few reasons.

Primarily, it is the only way most of us can hear each other. We live in areas largely distant from each other. Or, our personal and work lives do not allow for visits. For example, our local genius, Steven Fraser, lives only about 35 miles from me and I drive through his town twice a day. But there is no time to visit. He has a job and a personal life and so do I. Though maybe, some day, we may run into each other if we happen to be at a store or place in the area at the same time. Steve, I am easy to spot. A really tall guy who looks like he writes too much. :lol:

Secondly because I think most of us want to record music in some way. Not everyone has the time or location to sing live, other than for family or visitors. Nor is that an excuse. Recording is, as I learn, just as important a medium of performance as live performance. Which is why my brother's points about recording perfection are also valuable.

Let me paraphrase, if I may. So, you are awesome as a live singer. That's great. You have good technique, you are singing what you want to the way that you want to and you will have fans, no doubt. But recording that is another thing. Side step for a moment. There are times when a member puts up a no frills recording, actively seeking help. That is one thing and it's okay for it to be less than studio perfect. Then, we are just hearing the sound you are making or not making, if you want a diagnosis. Or even hints and help.

But, since a lot of us are really "showcasing" or putting up for review what we have done, then we really should treat it as a showcase. And I don't mean that you always need a full band track or orchestrated arrangement. Even my "campfire" editions of songs could use better recording and editing techniques. Only forgivable would be a case of where I really was at a party or campfire and had the portable digital recorder there and it would capture everything. Me, the guitar, the crackle of the campfire, kids hollering and crying, that slightly tipsy uncle tripping over the cooler and using some objectionable language and the resulting laughter. Now, that really is "live," warts and all.

As I have learned to better use the mic interface and recording input levels, achieving a basic function, getting a good file recorded that did not start out clipping in the red, and even if I have crafted the vocal line I want to have, now, we are out on the plank, skating on thin ice, working without a net, walking the tightrope.

Because of what is valued in sound.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#5 2014-07-17 00:01:17

slstone
TMV Forum Member
From: Maine
Registered: 2011-11-18
Posts: 298
Reputation :   
Website

Re: The Mix

Interesting post, since I have been preaching all along. Many have told me I am wrong about it. Because here, we post first takes so everyone can hear how we sound doing everything in one take.
My point has been, and I know that not everyone has good recording gear or mixing skills. But that doesn't excuse a poor performance. Bad equipment or good won't improve a voice that's off pitch. Recording skills won't fix poor technique. I have been told here in the past, that technique isn't important. It's the feel of the song, regardless of pitchiness, etc. Yet taking the time for an extra take, might make it 100 times better.
When I was recording my album, do you think I played and sang perfectly every day I went in to record?
There is a reason it took me a few years to complete it. Would it be as good as it came out if I had settled for a mediocre performance on each take.
Even if you post here, just for fun, give it your all and don't make excuses for what you can't do. Work in it until you can do it, then post it. It isn't a race to see who can post quicker than others.

If any of you need or want any pointers on recording, vocal endurance and stamina etc. just ask.
I am a plethora of info on what does and doesn't work.


Official Press Release - 'Book of Shadows' CD for sale now!
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/slstone
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/book- … d611487291
http://www.slstonemusic.com
Need music with which to sing along? 50% off All Services November Sale. Sign up now! http://stonecraftmusicstudio.com

Offline

 

#6 2014-07-17 00:41:33

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

Thanks, Scott. I have been trying to define my direction in this thread to what aesthetics we should apply to mixing strategies and got myself side-winded into what you are talking about.

So, while the recording strategy is to get as perfect a take as possible, even if it is a composite, is worth the effort.

The point after that is what I am also interested in. And I like the idea of less is more. Wherein, effects, if used, should be subtle and start out minimal, only to be increased or made deeper if the mix, in progress, seems to benefit from it. And that sometimes, when a good track is created and some judicious mixing is going on, it might lead to changing the arrangement and the vocal line, even.

You said, recording skills won't fix poor technique. True enough. I also find mixing skills won't fix a botched vocal take. And we all have them, no matter how good we are as singers. Ronnie James Dio crashed a note on a song he wrote ("We are Stars.") And you get to see that "fault" in the behind the scenes video.

Difference being, they backed up and he re-sang the line and got it right the second time.

A lesson we all can learn. Everyone makes a mistake. Not everyone preserves it for all time.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#7 2014-07-17 11:41:24

slstone
TMV Forum Member
From: Maine
Registered: 2011-11-18
Posts: 298
Reputation :   
Website

Re: The Mix

ronws wrote:

Thanks, Scott. I have been trying to define my direction in this thread to what aesthetics we should apply to mixing strategies and got myself side-winded into what you are talking about.

So, while the recording strategy is to get as perfect a take as possible, even if it is a composite, is worth the effort.

The point after that is what I am also interested in. And I like the idea of less is more. Wherein, effects, if used, should be subtle and start out minimal, only to be increased or made deeper if the mix, in progress, seems to benefit from it. And that sometimes, when a good track is created and some judicious mixing is going on, it might lead to changing the arrangement and the vocal line, even.

You said, recording skills won't fix poor technique. True enough. I also find mixing skills won't fix a botched vocal take. And we all have them, no matter how good we are as singers. Ronnie James Dio crashed a note on a song he wrote ("We are Stars.") And you get to see that "fault" in the behind the scenes video.

Difference being, they backed up and he re-sang the line and got it right the second time.

A lesson we all can learn. Everyone makes a mistake. Not everyone preserves it for all time.

and my point is, don't settle for the mistake. Redo it until it's done right. Thus the point being. A dry, but well performed vocal can have great things done in the mix. One must be willing to put in some extra time and work for what you know you can do. In my personal opinion, someone who isn't willing to do that, and just posts crap so that they will have something to post, is lazy. Even for fun, music shouldn't be laziness. Put in some effort.

As you know, I don't critique. But I will comment on one thing. It sounded to me as though your collab with MDEW was done with more care and time put into it than things that has been posted previously.
That's why I preach these things. I know what I am talking about, having recorded my own album from start to finish, playing all instruments and singing all parts...


Official Press Release - 'Book of Shadows' CD for sale now!
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/slstone
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/book- … d611487291
http://www.slstonemusic.com
Need music with which to sing along? 50% off All Services November Sale. Sign up now! http://stonecraftmusicstudio.com

Offline

 

#8 2014-07-17 23:56:15

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

slstone wrote:

ronws wrote:

Thanks, Scott. I have been trying to define my direction in this thread to what aesthetics we should apply to mixing strategies and got myself side-winded into what you are talking about.

So, while the recording strategy is to get as perfect a take as possible, even if it is a composite, is worth the effort.

The point after that is what I am also interested in. And I like the idea of less is more. Wherein, effects, if used, should be subtle and start out minimal, only to be increased or made deeper if the mix, in progress, seems to benefit from it. And that sometimes, when a good track is created and some judicious mixing is going on, it might lead to changing the arrangement and the vocal line, even.

You said, recording skills won't fix poor technique. True enough. I also find mixing skills won't fix a botched vocal take. And we all have them, no matter how good we are as singers. Ronnie James Dio crashed a note on a song he wrote ("We are Stars.") And you get to see that "fault" in the behind the scenes video.

Difference being, they backed up and he re-sang the line and got it right the second time.

A lesson we all can learn. Everyone makes a mistake. Not everyone preserves it for all time.

and my point is, don't settle for the mistake. Redo it until it's done right. Thus the point being. A dry, but well performed vocal can have great things done in the mix. One must be willing to put in some extra time and work for what you know you can do. In my personal opinion, someone who isn't willing to do that, and just posts crap so that they will have something to post, is lazy. Even for fun, music shouldn't be laziness. Put in some effort.

As you know, I don't critique. But I will comment on one thing. It sounded to me as though your collab with MDEW was done with more care and time put into it than things that has been posted previously.
That's why I preach these things. I know what I am talking about, having recorded my own album from start to finish, playing all instruments and singing all parts...

yes, and I know you want to belabor that point to good effect. And yes, this collab represents more time put in in order to get workable tracks.

I am also thinking of the next step. Now that I know what I need to do to get a good vocal track and will do it, what values of editing do I apply?

Some people always use compressor, some always use reverb, as if it were a macro ingrained in their right index finger. But is it always necessary? How do we judge what effects, if necessary, to use?

Which may eventually wind its way back to your point about awesome takes, composite or not. For example, you sing a line, put an effect on it and man, that sounds neat. So, you think, what if I changed the vocal line to this.

And so, the answer is, to both your point about excellence in the actual recording strategy, as well as my point about the editing strategy, is patience.

As you have pointed out, it took quite some time to get parts played just the way that you imagined them. My favorite was about how an errant chair-squeak ruined an otherwise awesome take.

Patience. That is the answer, and something I still learn day to day, which is at odds with my job. In my job, everything is a dire emergency, right now. Especially as it involves working crews, burning daylight by the hour at a considerable cost. I have to find answers right now and make decisions right now. With three crews and one service tech, each averaging 3 jobs a day, 5 and 6 days a week.

So, I learn to separate singing and "work." Yeah, I know, plenty of people look at singing as work and may need to justify it as "work" to justify the energy and time to themselves or family. My job pays me well but most people could not handle my "work."

Anyway, so singing is the escape for me. And learning to take my time in recording and editing helps separate it even more from "work." Plus, finally learning how to use a simple and effective DAW so that my efforts are more rewarding and appropos, simplifies and makes more enjoyable the process.

And I want to get back to "balance." To me, balance is a concept, like "open throat," rather than an actual equality of dB levels, etc.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#9 2014-07-19 12:43:23

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

But you're right, Scott, and I don't mean to sound dismissive or in hurry to move on. I started reading this thread again to see if I could improve it or at least crystallize some points. Granted, it may seem more like an amateur blog from me, highighting points that are already old-hat to you, and Felipe, and others who provide awesome recordings that sound as if done in a professional studio and ready for release and sale.

Then, I had to stop and feed the dog. And think about what you and others have said about recording, to get a decent track saved.

And it starts with setting levels, something so basic and easy. As important as a well-rehearsed performance. And so, let us say that one finally spends 5 or 10 minutes creating botch up tracks until the levels are right and you are getting a good sound for the voice at a dB level that meters out at - 3 dB. I finally see and understand how little time that is. And if I do not have the extra 5 or 10 minutes to accurately set levels, then I do not have time to record. And to that end, a basic level of equipment if we are to hope to have something that sounds better than a cellphone. Probably one of the most important things David mentioned is the interface. If using a usb interface, as many of us are, you need one with the ability of direct monitor to reduce latency, and variable and accessible means of adjusting output level. The old one that I have is a guitarface II and it was a gift and a wonderful step up when I had nothing. But it did not have direct monitor and there was no meter read-out to see where to set the output level. Literally, singing blind. It was also very inexpensive, having looked up the price, later. About 35 dollars.

Now, I have the m-audio m-track, which has everything the guitarface does not. With an LED meter. Most times, in one scratch track, I can set Audacity's mic input to about 65 percent. Start recording and wail some high notes at loud volume while actively adjusting the interface output, as well as the monitor balance between backing track and live mic so that I can actually hear what I am doing.

That is exactly what I did with Homeward Bound, as far as setting levels. Once I had the levels set, all that was left to do is sing. And, in so doing, I created a clean and quiet low volume track.

And it is way, way easier to boost volume on a track that is clean and still avoid clipping than to fix a track that red-lines. Because while you can fix errant clips, it will have an effect on the finished sound.

Being able to hear what I am doing means I can sing more properly. A singer sings by feeling but if you cannot hear yourself in the playback, you to end to push harder and louder than you really need. This not only derails your technique and creates fatigue and problems, but the oversinging also creates clipping.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#10 2014-07-19 12:51:25

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

So, in Homeward Bound, with managable levels going on, I was able to sing the song the way I interpret from the original recording. Neither Paul nor Art are over-singing or shouting or screaming. Both in ultimate control of their voices. And why shouldn't they be? Recorded in an expensive and professional stuio with equipment that amounts to a fortune. The song is melancholic, a bit of an up-front subtext. It is about reminiscence and homesickness. Homesick people don't shout. So, having the right levels allows me to emotionally present what the song means to me.

Granted, I don't sound like Paul or Art but I really don't care if I sound exactly like them, or not, though others might care and that is okay, for them. Not everyone will be a fan. But some will be. those are the people to whom I am singing. so, my concentration is to sing on pitch and record and edit it in a way that produces a pleasant recording.

And that, as you have said, nor am I discounting or trying to re-invent what you and others have said, though I may be doing that, inadvertantly, is the reason for discussion or our impromptu seminars on recording tech and regimen.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#11 2014-07-19 13:02:57

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

And maybe better recordings can be cause for more pertinent critiques. In the Homeward Bound thread, one reviewer thought I should have more "adduction" on the lower notes. Whether I should or should not, whether I want to or don't want to have more adduction is secondary, in this thread. Most importantly, the recording was clean enough the reviewer could hear something he thought could maybe be changed. What if a crappy recording made me sound "louder" down there? Then the critique would be different and maybe inaccurate and I could reasonably say the review was inaccurate and claim, well, I stomped this mic, blah, blah, blah, as I have done in the past.

So, as David and others have said, learn to first use the equipment you have, no matter how inexpensive, before buying more expensive equipment. Chances are likely you will have good, even pro results based on how you use it more than what the cost is. Bruce Dickinson made literally a career with the Shure 58, which can be had for less than 100 dollars.

And I have created guitar tracks that I and others have liked with an acoustic guitar that I bought for $40 at the flea market in Kleburg, Texas (southeast of Dallas.)

Then, having learned how to use equipment quite well, if one does upgrade to something more expensive, one will have far better results with better informed choices. Owen, in another thread, surmised he had equipment that probably totalled up to $3k USD, And he produces excellent recordings. So, it's not how much the gear costs, though you do need some basic pieces to produce a usable quality. It's the skill and patience in recording. And that's really the big thing, patience. Which is mental.

Last edited by ronws (2014-07-19 13:05:54)


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#12 2014-07-19 13:44:21

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

And so, we accept and become adept at getting a good sound into a file. Clean, quiet, ultimately flexible to change sounds in editing. Or perception of sounds. And we have followed Felipe's advice to settle on the vocal line and performance we are going to do, having refined technique and, in my own opinion, refined technique for the song we are singing.

What I am saying is let us pretend that we have seen to the previous elements to put together a song. We have musical accompaniment, whether a single karaoke track, as many guys here use. Or instruments we have recorded ourselves, from me with one guitar (though I own more than one have used more than one in a recording, acoustic for main guitar part, Flying V electric for solo parts,) to fully played and recorded separate instruments (aside from programmed drums) such as Scott did on "Heaven on their Minds."

Everything has been recorded well with decent equipment, a vocal track, whether singular or comp'd (doesn't matter because the end result is one comprehensive sound file.) I know some may say that a comp'd track is not indicative, since it could be a bunch of do-overs. And I have been one of the guilty ones. But guess what? Any recording, single track or multiple patches, is "fake." Because you are not in my living room and I am not in yours. We all can't have Shinedown show up and perform in the family den.



And since I have admitted that I have "red light syndrome," then it is upon me to work around that limitation by fixing my problems before final edit and post. That is, after accepting I have RLS, do patches and replacement sections. I shall not let RLS be a hindrance.

As much of a struggle of mental perspective and learning patience as it has been for me to get these basics hammered out, it seems like the real work is starting, which is upside down from what I thought, before.

Before, I had believed that if you hammered out the performance and recording tech, all that is left is to press record and do your thing. But really, that is just the beginning. From what I can see from my experience and the experience of others, editing (mixing) takes longer.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#13 2014-07-20 11:39:18

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

From my own experience, from experience of the recording engineers and producers who's books I have read, to the memoirs of actual singers and other artists, it takes longer to "mix" the album than it does to record it. Putting together the different tracks. Sometimes listening to the various takes you had and deciding which part of what track works better.

Or the way you sang it felt fine but now, in a recording, you would like to sing it differently so you go back and patch in a different version of whatever it was. There's other threads about neat and free or cheap plug-ins that you can get to beef up your DAW any way that you want. But my question is in how much of those to use.

Other than the freakish effect by overdoing an effect on purpose, there are times when too much of an effect pulls away from the song, in my opinion. For example, de-essing. For a number of guys it is not that big a problem. And you do want an identifiable esse for articulation. Too much makes it sound like mashed potatos.

Reverb. A number of people use it and use it set too deep, thinking it adds resonance. It does not.Like a pond with too many ripples to see the bottom of the pond. But, sometimes, a little is necessary to make a voice sit among the other instruments, which may have reverb. Otherwise, your unadorned voice will sit on top of the music, which makes it sound like karaoke (source of the music notwithstanding) instead of pro production.

My own viewpoint, aside from special effects for the reason of sounding different, is that less is more. Subtlety does more than overtness. That you have to mix each song by ear, not counting macros for instruments who's timbres and recording schemes do not change from one song to the next. For example, using a bass guitar with the same values set-up between one song and the next. Like Rush's "2112 Overture" and "Priests of Syrinx." They are two separate pieces that roll one into another and the bass values are going to stay pretty much the same in recording.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#14 2014-07-20 12:09:30

slstone
TMV Forum Member
From: Maine
Registered: 2011-11-18
Posts: 298
Reputation :   
Website

Re: The Mix

ronws wrote:

yes, and I know you want to belabor that point to good effect. And yes, this collab represents more time put in in order to get workable tracks.

It is never my intention to belabor a point. I don't understand why you think it is necessary to give such a snippy response. It takes away from an otherwise good and helpful post, and doesn't impress me in the slightest.

That being said, yes it does take much longer to mix than to record. I have told many people that recording was the easy part, even though many, many takes were recorded before finally getting it to a point of acceptability.
In essence, when recording, one records a very dry track, completely unobstructed by effects. That is the time to correct delivery, pitchiness, etc. by re-recording it until it is done correctly.
The effects are added to give each track a more rounded, full sound, in essence, to take a 1 or dimension recording and make it sound 3 dimensional. Sonically speaking, there are only so many frequencies that the human ear can hear, and in a musical recording, they are all fighting for dominance. It becomes more difficult depending on who is doing the mixing. Everybody want their tracks higher in the mix than their band mates. Eventually, everything is so loud that all tracks are clipping. The effects add balance so that all tracks find that sweet spot in the ear where everything fits together.
It took me quite a while to figure this one out(as far as fixing it) when mixing my CD. There were times I undid all effects and started from scratch again. It only took me a few months to record, but I spent a few years mixing. The reason it took that long was because I only spent one day a week in my studio, the rest of the week I was working and taking care of my family.

Now I would like to continue to offer my advice and suggestions for this topic. I would prefer others to be professional in the manner that they respond.


Official Press Release - 'Book of Shadows' CD for sale now!
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/slstone
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/book- … d611487291
http://www.slstonemusic.com
Need music with which to sing along? 50% off All Services November Sale. Sign up now! http://stonecraftmusicstudio.com

Offline

 

#15 2014-07-20 12:15:20

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

Scott noticed that the quality of recording and sound in Homeward Bound showed more care. Because it did.

First off, whether the vocal take was parts patched together or one continuous track does not matter. None of what you hear in those sound files is the first and only vocal take. It might be the third, it might be the 10th. It might be, as MDEW once said, "Take number One Thousand Forty Seven. And a half ..."

Point is, keep recording until the vocal take is right. Whatever that takes. Whatever it takes to get your voice in the right "frame of mind." An hour of warm-up.  or 10 minutes. Coffee, soda, water, wear a Garfunkel turtleneck sweater or a Simon vest, whatever gets you in the frame of mind to focus on the song. And that, too. Practice the song. And even though I have sang along with this song on the radio for literally decades, certainly longer than a number of people here have been alive, singing it for recording is a different story.

But it takes just as much time, if not more, to edit the recording to "sound right." And sounding right can mean something different to different people. When I have had other people edit my recordings, they do things I never thought of and may not even choose in my own values for editing. Neither good or bad, just different. And I am still learning, as I may need to retrain my ears.

Similar to telling someone to sing "ah" may not help if their "ah" is not the ah they really need, telling me to mix by ear is only as good as my ears are capable of. Another skill set to learn. To retrain the ears to what is valuable and good. Harder and harder to do these days because of so much music being compressed to a 5 kHz range of dynamics to sound "okay" on smart phones and little ipods. What works okay in one player is not so good in another. When I edited "Jesus Just Left Chicago" by ZZ Top, it sounded okay in Audacity, which can re-sample and play at 96k, if I so desire. But mp3 is going to be 44.1k to play in any player and in my ipod, that file sounds like tinny trash, like I was recording in a soupcan with a string.

Anyway, so editing Homeward Bound took just as long as any recording. It was not a matter of doing certain effects as a rote process of regimen. And actually longer because there are two versions, with two different voices singing in a similar style, each voice with its own sweet spots. And talents.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#16 2014-07-20 12:28:28

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

And, originally, if you want to know, the first version is actually with MDEW singing the lead and me singing harmony and back-up. And I was fine with that. I think MDEW has the Paul Simon sound a little closer on the lead line than I do. I think I sound little more like Art on the back-up. MDEW suggested I try the harmony and back-up higher. God and everyone knows I can sing high, and loud enough to hurt my own ears. But I could not imagine a higher line that would work and I did try.

So, MDEW, suggested I sing the lead and he do the harmony and back-up and so, we did that. And were faced with King Solomon's choice. There are good things in both versions. And I do have a preference, now, and can explain that, without any applause for myself.

I like, slightly better, the version where I sing lead because MDEW does a better job on the harmony than I did. Not only did he do it higher, but he had a better harmony line than I did. I think it is the stronger recording because of that, not because I am any better on the lead vocal line. And I was able to play "producer" well enough to step back and see what is it that the song needs. These even informs my guitar solo.

MDEW had sent me the tab form and was welcoming to me also recording the main guitar part. But his was so well done and his meter paces the original just fine and I could do no better. As for the solo, same thing. I can shred like Kirk Hammett, if I want to, twiddle like Eddie Van Halen, if the mood strikes me. But it would not work for this song. I channel the spirit of Dave Stewart (Eurythmics,) one of the most underrated guitarists. He plays only what the song needs.

And apply that whole process to editing the song. And that is where the hard work begins and it requires mental space and time.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#17 2014-07-20 12:53:36

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

Harder because, now, how do you adjust track levels and values to have the whole thing seemed "balanced"? And, like life, each decision has consequences.

MDEW lead and me back-up; I put a very slight reverb and less track volume on my track. This has the effect of placing me behind M's voice. Plus, slight pan right on M, almost center for me. As if you could see us and he would be slightly to your right and I was a little more center screen.

Same stereo field placement when the roles were reversed. The reverb seems a little more noticable on my lead, to me, but it still works. And it keeps my lower notes from getting lost.

And the time involved to fiddle with these values of effects and stereo placement. Not just hammering out somethings and let it fly in a hurry to post and get applause. I don't recall exactly but I think our whole process took no less than three weeks. And that is partially because we both have busy working lives. And a few times, on week nights, I am just too tired to be any good at judging sound. My vocal takes were in the morning, well rested, breakfast already done. Quiet time of day when the neighborhood, including the dogs are asleep.

Spend a couple of hours trying different edits. And then, not always trusting my own ears, using Audacity's easy mastering function, normalize. Select all tracks and normalize. See what that sounds like. And does it fit with the nature of soft ballads, which place the voice in prominence, anyway?

And that's the other thing. Values and functions and effects I have used on this recording may not be a "macro" I can use on all recordings. Before, when I had read that any analog sound brought into digital needs compressor, I did that. But other authors have shown and suggested that manually changing volume levels is far better for the dynamics of sound than compressing all and that is what I do. It takes more time but it gives better results that sound more organic.

Which pleases me, in general, but it also works for this song to be as organic as possible, like the original, which was recorded and mastered on tape, old school analog, which was new-school, back then.

So, part of the time is just getting mental clarity to come back to the recording with a fresh set of ears. As well as the time and patience to experiment with values and see if it works, or not. And undo the effect if it doesn't work and don't keep trying to use an effect just because I think I have to have it, if it simply does not work for this song and this recording.

Though Audacity has the ability to fix pitches, none of that was done. What you hear is what you get, warts and hairy ears, and all. A couple of old hippies singing across the Appalachians with each other.

And working with each others' strengths. M is great at arranging, which is just as important to singing and recording a song as the actual singing technique. What if we each had a "technically flawless" vocal take, impressive from a skill perspective and it didn't fit the song? Are we doing a voice recital or a song? Or both?


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#18 2014-07-20 13:01:58

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

And I don't mean to make this a thread about collabs but I think it helps me in understanding how to step back and be a producer, which you have to do, even when recording only yourself. It takes some distance. To step back and judge your voice, not how awesome or crappy, but does it fit in with what you are doing? To view your voice as simply another instrument, like a guitar solo, here and there. Does it fit, does it work? What could or should be different? Should it be there at all? Or are you just showing off at the expense of the song and whatever you hoped to elicit in the audience that hears you?

I think those things are more important than having all the plug-ins, as valuable as they are. It's like equipment. Having a mic that costs over a grand means you have an expensive mic recording crap if you are not using it correctly. So, rather than assuming one must have de-esser and flange and chorus and reverb on everthing, as a matter of course, it is preferrable to have better articulation, better recording environment,

And no, it does not mean that all of my recordings will be stellar from now on. But I am slowing getting better, one basic concept at a time. And becoming more functionally competent to achieve the things I already know by knowledge but had yet to bring into actual recording and editing regimen.

So, what are the technical values and effects to use in recordings that make them so good that you forget all about technique and just drift away with the song?


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#19 2014-07-20 13:04:54

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

slstone wrote:

ronws wrote:

yes, and I know you want to belabor that point to good effect. And yes, this collab represents more time put in in order to get workable tracks.

It is never my intention to belabor a point. I don't understand why you think it is necessary to give such a snippy response. It takes away from an otherwise good and helpful post, and doesn't impress me in the slightest.

That being said, yes .

I was not meaning to be snippy and I think you missed my next post where I understood that it was necessary to belabor it or go over it some more.

And probably will a few more times. I am learning that there is no real way to separate the regimen of good recording and editing. I had viewed it as a two step process but it may be more inclusive.

I apologize for upsetting you.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#20 2014-07-26 12:39:15

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

I do this thread, not because I am an expert but because this is part of my "process." I read and learn, then write, which teaches me more. I do think mixing or editing or producing the recording, whatever you want to call it is another skill set. Just because you are a good singer doesn't mean you know everything you need to know about editing. Or even how to record. Any number of people or even one or two people have thought I sang well. But plenty of times, I did not record well. And other times when I recorded well enough but edited it like the three stooges carrying around ladders, causing more damage at every turn.

So, a number of books I have read on recording are from professional engineers and producers who's paychecks are a percentage of the artist's percentage and they must produce salable recordings. And they all talk about mixing by ear. But, again, how are those ears trained? I don't think there is any one particular central and standard "professional" type of mixing strategy. One producer said it best.

She hated encountering stereo systems that didn't allow you to adjust bass, mid, and treble in playback. You were supposed to listen to it as the original artist "intended" you to hear it. Like a chef who forbids having ketchup at the table so that no one can "diminish" his creation with something so crass and plebian as a popular tomato-based sauce.

A number of bands sought out particular producers. Certain producers, such as Mutt Lange, produced break-out albums for a number of acts. Wherein, the producer becomes as big a "star" as do the acts he produces for. A number of producers had a prior career in performance. Will. I. Am, for example, now produces. So does Andrew 3000 (Outkast.) Paul Stanley (KISS) also produces.

Al Jourgensen, of Ministry, also produces and has owned a few recording studios and set-ups.

Not that one requires the other. Again, I think it is different skill sets that can sometimes coincide.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#21 2014-07-26 13:04:45

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

I think each voice has different things that can be highlighted or brought out, depending on the needs of the song. I don't mean, one way or another that every voice can make every sound. That is a debate for another thread.

I mean, the voice that you have, whatever changes you can make within your voice and then, how to bring out different things in it with a recording. But first, it starts with the key that you are singing in. The producer in the audited college course on recording mentions that this is his first step in recording a singer, before they even worry about what editing values or even, which mic to use. How does the voice sound on this song in different keys?

For this has caused me to re-evaluate the "one voice" thing. For each time you place a label, you can impose a limit. I find that I must constantly apply the philosophy of Jeet Kune Do, the style of no style, as described by the creator, himself, Bruce Lee. And here is why I had to re-examine that idea of one voice.

MDEW has given suggestions to me on arrangement. And it worked out for the better. When I was recording "Sunday Morning" by Kris Kristofferson, I was following mostly his line but in my comfortable key of A. Which was a bright and shiny romp. Not the effect I was intending. I was trying to bring out the sound of a hung-over hippie and I have lived every line in that song and was NOT bringing it like I should. MDEW suggested I approach from the cover of that song as done by Willie Nelson. Willie was keyed down near C and way more jazz. At that lower key, the wolfier sounds in the bottom end of my voice come out, especially as it is sung quietly, in a conversational tone.

And that brought the sound that expressed the feeling I was going for.

"I smoked my mind the night before on cigarettes and songs that I'd been pickin.
So I lit the first one of the day and watched a small kid curse the can that he was kickin.
And somewhere far away I smelled the Sunday smell of someone fryin' chicken.

And Lord, it took me back to something I lost somewhere somehow along the way.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk, wishing, Lord, that I was stoned. 'Cause there's something in a Sunday that makes a body feel alone. And there's nothing short of dying that's half as lonesome as the sound of a Sunday morning sidewalk, Sunday Morning, coming down."

Awesome songwriting. Kristofferson should be considered a national treasure and he is a Rhodes scholar, legitimately, from his college days. Anyway ...

So, to be self-centered and seem as if I am reversing field, we as singers and producers of our own singing should consider where is the voice best keyed for the song. I know, I said, serve the song. And this is serving the song. If the song is to have a human singing, then key and arrangement should be changed to highlight that, which elevates the recording. And I expect to get disagreement from some who will say, well, the song is keyed a certain way because that is where the song must be played and sung.

But I am being egocentric to use the human voice as the deciding factor, just as, if mixing music that includes a violin, the instrument of such feeble volume, one must adjust other values to give the violin a chance.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#22 2014-07-26 13:59:52

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

Mixing a recording is perspective. How many times have I suggested to someone that they could mix the recording differently? Albeit, I will precaution it with the admission that it is my opinion, only. But it is from my perspective of what I like in a recording. What was the other guy thinking when he mixed his? He thought it was ready to post and share, and probably for good reason.

There are times when I now realize I could have mixed an earlier recording better now, than I did then. So, again, what are the editing values to use? You have a cleanly recorded vocal track or tracks, even if you are creating distortion sounds with your voice, the track is clean of defects and clipping because you have the right input levels. How do you change equalization to mix the voice with the recording?

First off, get rid of the presumption that you have to adjust eq every time. You may have done it on one song and that was fine but not necessarily for this time. There really can be times when you don't really need to adjust eq. The best advice I have read said, if it doesn't need it, don't do it. Which reminds of the advice of my brother, Scott, and fellow member, Felipe. If you have sung rightly and recorded well, you need less "fixing." Except of course, for genre choices.

For example, maybe a song needs a slapback echo on one part to highlight it. That's cool but you don't have to do it with every song, ad infinitum.

Such weighty decisions have also affected big bands in profound ways. Uriah Heep had a few albums that were good albums. Songs as powerful as "Easy Living." And yet, the album tanked or did not reach the same sales as earlier works. And many is the time they blamed the "new" producer they were using. Sometimes, for good reason. And why is that? Because the new producer had a different perspective and highlighted different things in the recording.

And the market changes. GnR's album, Appetite for Destruction was recorded very cheaply and sounds like it was recorded on a 4 track in a garage. And it was the highest-grossing rock LP. Two decades later, with two state-of-the-art studios, including one especially built for the album and funded by Rose, himself, and over a decade of recording and mixing and what many consider to be OCD behavior on the part of Axl Rose, sometimes with the vocal track recorded line by line and later comp'd, comes along Chinese Democracy. In two years, it sold triple platinum, worldwide, just on fan base, without promotion. (Interscope bought out Geffen and changed what kind of music they wanted to represent. Rather than tie up the album release in a lawsuit, Rose took his losses and arranged his own distribution with Best Buy, which was also a problem but at least it was out there.) Triple plat did help recover the costs, brought GnR back into the black but it has never achieved the sales numbers that Appetite did. Because the market, at least in America, has changed. Me? I liked the album as much as any other and listened to it exclusively for a number of months when I first got it.

And, too, Chinese Democracy is a marked change from the songwriting of Appetite. CD is an homage to Axl's appreciation of the genre of post-industrial. Something that maybe the rest of America is not all that into but it pleases him, artistically.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#23 2014-07-26 14:31:08

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

Quiet Riot became the first band to have a metal album reach #1 in the charts. Not just metal charts. Music, in general. And largely thanks to a song they did not want to do. The "producer" was a big fan of Slade. And was bound and determined to get the song covered, against the wishes of Quiet Riot singer Kevin Dubrow (now deceased.) Kevin hated Slade, wanted nothing to do with any of their songs. The rest of the band didn't care one way or another. So, hoping to botch the song ("Come on Feel the Noize") in recording, they listened to it once. Told the producer they had it "rehearsed." They did not. Other than guitarist Carlos Cavazo dubbing in a few guitar fills later, what you hear on the album as released is the first and only take, ever. Recorded once, live in the studio, as in all members playing at once, no click track, going off the drummer's tap. And it (Metal Health) was a number one album.

And who was right and who was wrong? Quiet Riot's version, haphazard as it was, surpassed the original and most people say "Slade? What is a "slade"? Is that a farming tool?" Did the producer guess right? Or was he just lucky to have an awesome band that could play whatever he wanted, on the fly, and have it come out right?

Was Kevin wrong for regretting doing the song even though he sounds awesome doing it? Again, the first track is the only track, no comp's, no multiple takes, no way to re-arrange the song and second-guess yourself. And it worked. Like Felipe said, an outstanding performance is paramount. And, in the case of this song, it was 95 percent of the work, as there was not much you could change in the mix. In which case, the producer could only do whatever he would do with any live recording, which is to do the best with what you've got because that's all there is.

As opposed to the Steve Miller Band. Miller defines the meaning of OCD in the studio. In fact, he said in an interview, once, that he found live venues less than ideal precisely because he could control the sound like he does in the studio. Even Eddie Van Halen has said that if possible, he would rather stay in the studio, "noodling" bits and pieces together.

As opposed to other guys, like Slash, who admittedly function best when they are onstage, somewhere.

Anyway, so, does one's voice on a song help determine what values to use in editing? I think so. And I am still learning these things, and that's why a write about it. I listen to how Snax mixed my vocal take for "Rainbow in the Dark." I think it was equal parts of narrowing the eq values while adding stuff like wet reverb and echo. And notching down into the backing track. I once played for someone both my cover of "Rainbow in the Dark" and my cover of "I Don't Believe in Love" by Queensryche. The latter, I mixed myself. And this person I played them for said it sounded like two different singers.

And I still haven't got to what I wanted to talk about, which is actual eq values, how much reverb or echo. Etcetera. Except to experiment. Like Scott said, editing the recordings of his took a lot longer than the actual recording. I wonder, too, if editing decisions down the road might have led to recording a part differently because now a new idea would fit better with a slightly different line, so that editing may influence the final arrangement.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#24 2014-07-26 15:00:18

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

And now, I will talk about Audacity, as it is the DAW I am most familiar with and have become more adept at using. It is actually far simpler than I thought. Don't get me wrong, I have technical expertise. In electrical stuff, I could put anyone to sleep discussing electrical theory down to the level of quantum mechanics. Using a hyperbolic trig function translated into topology (set theory on steroids,) I can show you Einstein's mistakes in math, though he did admit to problems with his own Special Theory of Relativity in regards to statistical mechanics, as mentioned in his autobio notes that I have read in both german and english. I have parts of the electrical code book memorized. I am a master electrician with decades of experience. But that would be a whole other thread on a different forum.

But in recording, I need something intuitive. In other DAWs, you have to assign busses and outputs and sends for each track and effect, I think, a holdover from the days of analog boards where you really did send effected sounds with a patch cord back to another input. The only analog experience I have was with a tascam 4-track that used cassettes.

So, using Audacity is more intuitive to me, not being moribund in the procedures of a 16 or 24 track analog board. I don't have old habits to first unlearn. In Audacity, you don't send anything. You apply whatever effects to whatever section of the track that you want. You start a new track by clicking record. You can create a "send" by duping part of a dry track and putting it in its own track to have whatever effects that you want. Often is the advice that you want a mix of dry track and an effected track. All this without having to send by chosen buss. And really, it's all software, ones and zeros. I don't have to think about where I am sending and naming busses. I just do it, by ear, totally intuitive. At the end, I have a few ways to finalize the mix. Export will mix down to two tracks. Or, I can export only selected tracks. Or, I can choose mix and render, though one should use care. Save what you did as an original project file. Then mix and render and save that as another project file.

Also, one can select all tracks and the function of normalize, which applies an algorithm to balance all tracks together. This most often works for voice-only recordings, such as a recording of discussions with multiple speakers. But it can also work for music, on a case by case basis. You have unlimited undo function in the project file. If normalize makes it all sound like mashed potatos or took away from the dynamics, undo the normalize. Save. Close it down. Go eat dinner, mow the lawn, or something. Get away from it. Perspective. Patience.

That's why you have to be careful with mastering functions. John Legend's "All of Me" is getting a lot play on the pop stations. And I listen to it and there is just about no dynamics. The soft falsetto bits and the full volume chorus all sound about the same level. Because it has been mastered to a narrow range of decibels so that I can hear all bits of the song while in my car an travelling at 80 mph up the Rayburn Tollway (and a harley is passing me!) because that is format requirements of media conglomerates like Clearchannel and Digimedia.

Anyway, back to dynamics.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#25 2014-07-26 16:22:30

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

Latency. All DAWs have it. It's that Einstein thing, again. Electromagnetic behavior (of which light is one aspect) only moves so fast. Then you have chip speed, how much RAM to move large bits of data. And fit it into and out of the interface.

My most important piece of equipment now is the usb interface that I now have. To echo David, you must have one that has direct monitor and level indicators. And a balance knob between playback and your live mic input. This one thing alone, right here, using my condenser mic ($23 USD from the Music Store,) is what is responsible for getting such a clean track for Homeward Bound. Just for this moment, set aside the crafting of the performance, which melody line to use, where to key the song. Just getting whatever sound you are making cleanly and without clipping into the DAW, Is a must. Mine cost $100 USD.  Average cost range would 100 to 150 for the more popular ones here, like the Scarlett 2in2. Anything less capable than these and you are just shooting yourself in the foot. I know, I have bullet holes in my shoes.

Using this interface, I have extremely small latency that is easily fixed in editing and I have not done anything to the default latency values in Audacity. Because reducing latency also reduces the ability to play all parts, especially in playthrough monitoring through the DAW. I leave that turned off. By adjusting the balance knob on the interface between live mic and playback of previous or imported tracks, I can actually hear what I am doing.

That being said, there will still be latency, even to a small degree. Easy to fix. Find the beat you are starting on in the backing track and set a mark and zoom in. Change the cursor tool to time shift and move the additional track until it lines up. You can also create a click track and align all other tracks to the tick mark on the click track. And the whole track could be adjusted, after this, with a tempo adjust. Tempo adjust does NOT change pitch. I find a change of + .01 percent does the trick. (Here, my math expertise actually helped, thanks to that old metric thing with the speed of light and electromagnetic behavior.)

Some are going to say that is not legitimate to do. Well, actually, a number of professional producers don't have a problem with it. Even more basic, it is no more "cheating" than adjusting latency values in the DAW. It's all ones and zeros travelling at approximately 300,000 kilometers per second. At however fast your computer chip can operate.

So, Audacity didn't have any more latency problems than any other DAW, it was simply my ineptitude that caused problems. Ineptitude by means of ignorance. Ignorance is not an insult, it is a lack of knowledge, something I can correct by learning and not be so ignorant.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#26 2014-07-26 16:52:35

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

Comping (creating an apparent vocal track from parts or sections brought together as a composite of all the parts.)

A number of producers have sometimes had the singer record the vocal track complete. More than once. Then the producer slices and dices what he wants from each complete take to make another one that is a composite of the snippets he has selected.

This can also be wearing on the singer. No voice sings the same way twice in a row. This is a fact, regardless of how technically proficient the singer is. It is all through the book I have of opera singers talking about their experiences. And producers know this for a fact and it is why they record multiple times and multiple takes. But there is another way to record that is faster and still takes the advantage of a number of passes.

Sometimes, you are singing and doing fine. And then (my personal favorite since I have done it so many times, myself) go into the first half of the chorus flat. Instead of starting all over again, delete just the section of track where the chorus starts. Start recording a second track starting at the chorus, instead of the beginning. I wish I had thought of this when I covered "Holy Diver." I happen to like my recording of that song, EXCEPT for the first half of the first occurence of the chorus. I was just a little flat and tuned up midway through the chorus. The rest of the chorus repeats were okay, I learn from my mistakes more than my accidental successes.

So, you finally get through the song, whether you purposely sang each section on its own track, like I did for "Full Moon" by Sonata Arctica or this "start where you left off thing," like I did for "Rainbow in the Dark" (yes, that was a comp'd track.) Until final mix, resist the temptation to export or bounce down into one track the pieces. Sure, you could take a comp'd track and slice it up again, but now you have created twice the work for yourself. Audacity has no limits of number of tracks. You are limited only by memory capacity. With "Full Moon," Keith edited it for me and I sent him each section as a separate track, though I don't know if it helped. In reading the reviews, my singing was the problem, not my recording strategy. But I got good reviews with "Rainbow in the Dark" and my "fix as you go" thing. Which may mean I work best with that. My sense of flow is better if I am viewing the song as a whole, regardless of re-starting at a later point.

Though it is okay to export down to one track if you are sending to someone else for editing. Depends on the needs.

Because you can do different things to each section as needed.

What about patching in a better take of problematic section? Easy to do in Audacity. Set a marker where you want to start recording the new section. When you press record, it will start a new separate track at this mark. Do your thing, be awesome. Then, go to the track that had the problem, highlight the section you are replacing and use the create silence function. this will mute that bad section. In playback, it sounds like you got it right the first time. You would use this in the case of where you sang the whole track and thought it was fine and then, in playback, you noticed in the second verse, you started off pitch. Rather than re-record the entire track, which is what I used to do, and make mistakes elswhere or lock yourself up because you know this place where you crashed before is coming up, leading you to make mistakes elsewhere, you fix just that section.

And just because you made that mistake that time, does not mean you always will. And I think this process can help a singer to do better. And I know this goes against the opinion that lazy singers are being propped up by studio "trickery" like this. I think a lazy singer is a lazy singer, live or recorded. David Allan Coe sold untold number of albums. And he was flat live and flat in the studio. At least he was consistent. But fixing the mistakes you made can lead to examining what you did wrong and what you should or could do to improve or change. Because, if you didn't work on problem sections before, you will, now.

In Audacity, you can apply effects to just one part of a track. You highlight that part and choose whatever effect and its parameters. Or you can do like Scott and record loud and high choruses on a separate track for different effects and values. So, now, I am getting into the nuts and bolts of what I wanted to think about.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#27 2014-07-26 17:20:47

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

Viewed in total, there is a general range to the human voice including all "voice types" from basso to soprano coloratura. And rather than get into voice-types, I would rather describe voices as low or high-centered and each being either heavy or light. No more than that. And, in pretty much all human voices and hearing, there is part of the frequency range that brings brightness, clarity, the sound we love. It is around 2 kHz. the brightness comes from partials and/or funamentals at this area. The voice is able to produce and maybe more importantly, it is also where the human ear hears it. And that is a matter of resonance, or waves being doubled in amplitude, as volume comes from amplitude.

And so, part of having a voice sound like it is in the mix rather than on top if it, is to highlight the 2 kHz in the human voice, not by boosting that in eq, but in dropping the eq at that point in the backing music, so that the voice is not competing so much with the other instruments. But not all the way through the song, for the other instruments have value there, too. Or, at the very least, don't decrease the 2 kHz value in the human voice. In my opinion and from what I have read and studied, eq adjustments is more about being subtle, even surgical, in what you are going to change.

You can also clean up a track by using the filtering function. High pass means it passes frequencies above a certain point. So you can use a high-pass filter function to eliminate low rumbles that are muddying the take. Say, roll off steeply from 100 or 200 Hz and down.

And you can take out irritating hisses and some pops and squeaks from the environment by using a low pass filter. Low pass means frequencies below a point will remain and anything above is reduced or gone. Use a high pass at about no higher than 20 kHz. That is the highest tested limit of the most phenomal human ears and must humans can't really appreciate or differentiate anything above 15 to 18 kHz. So, getting rid of anything outside of these points is not taking away from the musical enjoyment and does clean up the track. Or, if you wish, leave it in if you want all the environment represented. If using filters, I would suggest doing this before using a de-esser. Those are valuable, too. Just saying, see if a filter fixes what you need fixed.

From here, you can play around and should. It's your computer, unlimited tracks, make some hot chocolate and play with the values. And, which I should have said, at first, save the project at the dry track stage. And again, throughout the process. Save, save, save. And, with Audacity, even though you are saving the effects you used up until now, the original dry track is still the data. So, you could always flatline the eq and start over. And may do. Especially if you use some other effects, like compressor, delay, echo, reverb, etecetera. These effects may highlight something you may want to eq differently.

In other DAWs, effect chains may be important but I don't think so in Audacity. Audacity is so lateral. You can change any track at any time without changing other tracks. It's all just ones and zeros.

Last edited by ronws (2014-07-26 18:38:14)


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#28 2014-07-26 17:50:15

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

Other effects. Audacity comes with a basic and standard set of popular plug-ins for effects. Echo, delay, reverb, compressor, amplify, equalization, vocoder (vocal removal), chorus, limiter, normalize. And you can download other plug-ins (check to make sure the version is compatible with your DAW.) And VSTs, which is really helpful in expanding midi capability if you are doing midi.

Or you can do old-school. If you are creating your own instrumental tracks, you can get separate instruments and record those each one at a time. With "Heaven on their Minds," Scott played and recorded each instrument himself, except for drums. He did not have a drum set in the house and programmed those. But it did not deter the value of the song because that song is more about the lyrics than what drums are used. (Sorry, drummers and I speak as someone who hears drums in a song before I even hear the singer. Weird, huh?)

I have 4 guitars, two of which are playable. I could find a bass at a pawnshop. Drums, there's another matter. Did you know, and maybe you do, whoever "you" are, that an eletronic drum kit costs more than a real one? The value of an electronic drum kit is that you will not get complaints from the neighbors. Which was never a problem in my neighborhood. Until recently, a drummer lived two houses away from me and his band would rehearse in his garage. And they were getting really good, too.

So, whether virtual or real, you have pretty much anything you need.

Which does not mean that you have to use all of it. You don't have to use compressor just because someone else does or you read it somewhere. In fact, since I have learned how to use my interface and control input levels, and better use of mic proximity, I don't really need compressor, which is designed to limit high volume and raise low volume. Point being, if you can even out levels with mix proximity, or even, adjusting levels of volume in the same track, which I did with my final recording of "Overkill," then you don't need compressor all that much. Because compressor can have ancilliary effects that can take away from the dynamics in your voice and your interpretation of the song.

What if you have one wild note? You really let loose and it clipped just a smidge into red. You don't have to re-do the whole track or a section. Or compress the whole track which was fantastic except for that one errant spot in time. You can use amplify to fix that. How? by choosing a negative value. It's easy. Set a mark at the offending note. Zoom way in. Then, drag and highlight just that note. Choose amplify and set the parameter for - 3 dB. If that squashes too much, then undo and try it again with a value of - 2 dB. Remember that decibels are logarithmic, not linear (sorry for using math terms. Basically, a little goes a long way.) Now, you have surgically applied your own "compressor" in just the one spot you needed and the rest of the awesome rockin' take is unaffected.

When I use reverb or echo, I start out with really small numbers. If you are used to metric, you are fine. I am used to SAE but I convert in my head. In the parameter for room size, the default is 10 meters. I already know that a meter is 3 feet and 3 inches. So, 10 meters square is approximately (rounded up) 33 feet by 33 feet, which may be too "big" a room for what I want. Anyway, by starting small, I find it easier to adjust up until I reach the sound I want.

Echo, I start with small values, less than .5 and give it a listen. While Audacity does not have real-time adjustment of these values in playback, that is a small concesssion I can make for what is otherwise a supremely easy system to use.

However, in playback, you can actively, in real time, adjust track volume and left to right pan and that will figure into final mixing.

One more word about equalization. I think it is best used to highlight your voice than to make it weird, unless weird is the desired effect. Then, have it. I am finding that recording and editing is an art form and I am excited by it.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#29 2014-07-26 18:37:19

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

Which finally leads me to multi-tracked vocals or even the "send" sensibility of dry and effected tracks, together. Such as having a second track for harmony. For you might put different eq and other effects on that track. And I am not going to get really complicated with it. And part of the reason, at least in editing of having both the dry or unaltered track and then the dupe track having effects on it is so that, if th effect doesn't work, no prob, delete only the affected track. It saves time in editing. And a some producers have stated they think it sounds better to have dry and affected track (a "send") and their ears are certainly better than mine.

And you can always have the option of choosing the dupe track with the effects for final mix down, with the original dry track mute. Do not erase that original dry track. It is always the base from where you can work. Otherwise, it will be gone and you cannot get it back and you will never record that way again because the voice sings differently each time.

And another reason to be subtle in the mixing of recordings is because of the effects of mastering, later on. Mastering is most appropriately applied to an album of songs. Simply, all the songs should have the same relative volume so that the listener is not having to adjust volume on each song. Because the mastering process will bring up volumes, you don't want to wind up with a hammered mess with songs that were already near max dB before being boosted again.

And, whether one song or an album, if we are to produce truly good quality recordings, even for each other, is to listen to our finalized efforts in the player we expect others to hear it from. Call me crazy (well, call me crazy, anyway, won't hurt my feelings,) but I think a song sounds better in some players in my computer, though it always obviously the same circuitry. However, decoding algorithms can vary. Which may be to subtle to hear. Again, I could be crazy but when someone sends me a file in an email, I can save and listen on my computer with Windows Media Player or Audacity. And it seems to sound full, to me. Filesharing sites may have limits, maybe I am wrong. However, check what it sounds like on an ipod. Or, a car stereo if yours has an mp3 jack. Mine does not. Or your desktop speakers. It may have sounded great on your near-field monitors on their stands in your "studio," and sound different in someone else's player. Someone might be hearing you through a smartphone. That is, no matter how how hi-fi we get with our recording equipment and strategies, we are at the mercy of whatever playing machine is playing our stuff.

And what if you have done all these things and you like what you did? And someone else doesn't? Welcome to the world of Uriah Heep. And blame the producer. Wait a minute ... that was you. Or me. Welcome to the world of the record producer, who will be second-guessed by everyone, from critic, to musician, other producers, to the general buying public who buys it, not caring who the producer is. Or they don't buy it.

So, other than using the basic functions of a DAW and getting a good input of sound, both simple and basic things I am just starting to learn, the rest of it is about ears. Sure, primarily, does one have functioning ears that do not have disabilities? Assuming that is so, I can largely forget about it except to say that I have worked a lifetime in construction and loud noises can damage hearing and after a while, I learned to wear earplugs. And in the four years I have been in management, I think some of my finer hearing has returned to me, as I think I am hearing finer details than I did before.

The other part of ears is perspective, what we value in a sound or a voice. And is part of why a band is really helped if another person outside the band produces the recording. They have some emotional distance, maybe a proven track record of big-selling albums they produced. Others have mixed my recordings and certainly used different values than I would have thought of.

And I think that listening as a producer is a different skill set than listening as a singer but I think it can also help the singer.

Last edited by ronws (2014-07-26 18:45:08)


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 

#30 2014-08-17 00:26:54

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: The Mix

Something else about comp'd vocal tracks. Or patched fixes, whatever you want to call it.

As much as I admit my own ego, it has helped to tame my ego. Having always described myself as a live singer and doing quite well with that, I blamed faulty recordings on "red ligh syndrome."

And so, I learn from my mistakes and am humbled, once again. The sign of education and knowledge is the admission of how much I do not know. So, I wanted to re-iterate that there is nothing "fake" about fixing a vocal track with comps and patches.

Not just myself, but each of us has probably nailed a song, live, one shot. And even used to doing that. And that it may not often happen in recording. For one thing, the monitoring is different. When I am singing live with an acoustic guitar or even the band, I have a whole live room of "feedback" in sound. As opposed to singing against a track with headphones.

And while the last few recordings I have been in are better quality recordings and better received and reviewed by others, it was still an evolution for me. For singing "in studio" does have its differences. And there is nothing "fake" about recording over again, as I have had to. It is simply the environment of studio recording. While live singing demands that you do not stop, studio recording demands that you get it right, regardless of the number of takes. And this is nothing new to recording experts such as my brother, Scott, or fellow member Felipe, and others who produce great recordings.

But it has been something elemental and revelatory for me. What is painfully obvious and without question to you guys is a discovery for me.

And so maybe this thread is for myself, sort of a blog, if it can be called as such. An achievement for me to learn something, and how I learned it. And how I laugh at myself for past errors of mine, both in the practice of recording, and the errors created by my own arrogance, laziness, whatever you wish to call it.

Because I came to another realization while reading and thinking about the thread on straining in another section. I do not not expect a badge of honor or accolades or kudos if I have strained to create a great note. Nor should I expect adulation and applause for doing a great note that caused me no strain at all, totally "in my wheelhouse." Either thing is frippery, suitable only to feed vanity. All that matter is the finished sound, the final product, whatever it is that I post for anyone to hear.

And I have realized that transfers in meaning and applicability to recording. Ultimately, as Scott a patiently pointed out so many times, all we have to hear of each other is these recordings. Even between Scott and myself, living on nearly opposites of our huge continent. Him about 8 hours from the New England Coast, me about 8 hours from the Gulf Coast.

It doesn't matter if I sang the song in one take, first take, no re-starts. Or if it took literally twenty tries, 3 or 4 full takes, leading me to use the MDEW line, "Take number 1,045 ... and a half." It doesn't matter if I had to take one track and massage each section. Or record several sections and adjust each one.

And though I find that mixing and editing the recording takes longer and as much or more care as the actual recording, that is not even the deciding factor or a "requirement." What is most important, regardless of how much or little time in recording and editing is, "how does it sound?"

Does it work? Or not? Fix it. And that has been the true evolution for me. Rather than just saying, well, at least I finished it and then post.

Let's say that I am better as a live singer than as a recording singer. And this is true for many pros and there are recording engineers that can attest to this. A singer who knocks it out of the park at Donnington but falters and forgets lyrics in front of the glass and the condenser mic on a boom. It really does happen, and not just to me. So, after I dry my tears and blow my nose, I record again and get all those "live" bits together.

And other times, I just get it right on the first take. And that is okay, too. And to have the good judgement to run with a first take. Especially if all that is needed is volume adjustments to make up for poor mic placement.

And often, I find, I do much better if I save the project file, of course, with original values, and then mix it. And then, most importantly, let it sit. Shut it down. Eat dinner, watch a movie, wash some dishes. Don't even bother with it until the next day. True, most of my free time is on the weekends but that does not mean that I need to record, mix, and post within 48 hours. The song is not going anywhere, so far, the forum is not going anywhere. So, come back to it and listen with rested ears. Does it still work? Okay then, export, upload. And let the chips fall where they may.

And that was difficult for me. The maturity to respect the results that I get. I could do everything right, good recording set-up, good mix, and people just don't "buy it" with me singing the song.

And likewise, accept the applause that I get. And not beg for more. At times, I have seen others post a song and get a good review, maybe two. And they up their thread asking for more commenters. I guess that is okay for them. For me, not so much. I want someone to comment because they liked the song, they like me doing the song.

And sometimes, I post a song and get one or two good comments and that is it. And I accept that. I have reached the audience that appreciated that song. And did not incur bad reviews. Sometimes good news with no bad news is, indeed, good news.

But, at the very least, if I can present a good recording, that is half the battle. Even if someone picks apart my tone of voice or whatever, at least I have recorded and presented to the best of my ability. And that is why I do not offer excuses, recording conditons, etc. Although, if asked about equipment or technical details, I will provide those, as a matter of technical interest. Otherwise, you are not going to read how tired I was. How many takes. How difficult or easy it was. Who cares?

Did I do the song well? Did you like it? Or not? Like life in the real world.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

Offline

 
OTHER TMV WEB SITES: TMV RECOMMENDS: TMV RECOMMENDS: TMV RECOMMENDS:

Adverts

Board footer

Powered by FluxBB
Hosted by PunBB-Hosting