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Digital Recording, Mixing and Mastering Volume 2

Digital Recording, Mixing and Mastering Volume 2

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Published by jels3567

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Published by: jels3567 on Nov 20, 2009
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07/06/2013

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What do I do first and in what order do I work?The first thing I do is to listen to the music carefully listening for noise, hum and other deficiencies that may havebeen overlooked by the recording engineer. This is not a put down of the mix engineer skills but an acknowledgmentthat a second opinion will often pick up things that may not have been heard previously. In most cases the problemslie with noise, equalization and arrangement. The next thing I do after listening to a track carefully is to apply noisereduction. In many cases noise reduction alone will make the track sound much better bringing out frequencies thatwere hidden or masked by the noise adding sharpness and clarity. Next I make EQ and compression adjustmentsbearing in mind that both these processes will boost the signal somewhat. Low and high frequencies often needclarification (isolating then boosting or reducing) either being too excited or to dull. Next I add compression whichadds further definition to the highs, mids and lows while adding punch and a smooth texture to the overall sound. Ifyou're going to use compression now is the right time in that compression will squelch all other processes you mayhave already done (spatial enhancements, reverb, etc.). Next I add spatially enhancements and for that I useplug-ins that widened the stereo field adding full rich sound to the track. Stereo fields can be widened or reducedshifted left or right to suit your need. Bear in mind that when the stereo field is widened so is the reverb so usecaution when adding reverb of or wait and add it after this process is done. Next I add effects like reverb or delay ifneeded. Finally I use a read ahead limiter to increase the overall volume and impact of the track. This is just ageneral outline of how I work. In many cases some of these steps are skipped, not being necessary for theparticular track I'm working on.
Digital Recording, Mixing and Mastering. Volume 2..--+=({ethix-wing})=+--..
 
Q: WHy is it that I can burn a cd at a relatively hot level(hitting 0 db all the way through), yet when I listen topro-recordings such as Tori Amos, Lenny Kravitz, etc...the apparent volume seems almost twice as loud?A:If your sound card is 16 bit, you probably are only getting 12-13 bit, whereas pro's can maintain 16 bit becausethey are working in 20 or 24 or 32 bit. The rule of thumb I learned is there are 6dB to one bit, so do the math(16-12)*6 = 24dB There is the volume you are missing.The increase in loudness is created primarily by compresssion and limiting. Long story short, if you "rip" a loudcommercially produced CD and examine the waveform you'll see a big "block" of sound. What the masteringengineer has done is to limit peaks on the song- spikes in the waveform that hit zero dB and are much higher thanthe rest of the waveform; and also he likely compressed the mix as well- bringing lower parts to the same or similarvolume as higher parts. All this is done for the reason you mentioned- to increase the average volume of thewaveform and by association the apparent volume.Doing the stats on album music was something else- music that I listen to over and over seems to hover around the-14dB average RMS with peaks around -1 to -1.5 db rather than the -9db/lotsa OdB peaks which seem to becommon in singles.Ballads and classical music are really interesting- a piano and voice piece at -19 dB av.RMS can sound as "loud" asa pop piece at -14dB average and limiting it to "match" on paper can make it sound NASTY, like being slappedupside the head with a giant fiberglass hotdog.
 
If you like the mix and you don't think anything needsEQing like above, compression can help but the wrongkind can dull the mix. If your mixes aren't normalizedto 99%or so you'll need to set your own threshold, but-6 to -10dB is where you want the comp to startworking. A ratio of 2:1 is usually not desired unlessthe mix isn't very tight, but it sounds like your mixis tight if the instruments are in your face, a ratioof 1.1:1 to 1.5:1 is where I like to start but eachsituation is different.. If the compression sucks some highs out oreven mids, you may want to use the above compressionbut with in a certain range up to 8k, or lowerdepending on the mids-Or maybe only 20-200 needs the comp. I like to comp before final EQ unless you can hearsomething you can fix with parametric. If you don'tpara EQ first, but comp first, you may need to useEQ to adjust any mismatches after comp.When you're satisfied with the mix, in CEP, I use theamplitude effect to see how much I need to boost toachieve 100% normalization(maximum volume beforedigital distortion) view this in decibels not inpercentage and it will give you an amount to increaseto maximum volume, but don't do it. Instead close itout and goto the Hard limiting effect and where itsays boost input by:_ put in a number 2 to 6 dBs abovethe amount the amplitude effect gave you depending onhow much dynamic range you want. Increasing by 6 willhave less dynamic range than 2.These techniques work for me and they might for you.

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