The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.

Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby RobotHeroes » Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:33 pm

Carey M wrote:
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby Windreaper » Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:48 am

Most of what I had in mind are already covered. Just my 0.02.

a) Keep your mixing volume reasonable. It's not as tiring and it's actually easier to get good balance (almost everything sounds good when turned up, making the mix work at moderate volume is harder and results in a mix that translates better).

b) Listen to the mix in mono when starting, I think it's easier to get the rough balance right plus most phase cancellation issues become apparent immediately.

c) Already said, but work on getting the best raw recording quality you can achieve. There's a limit to what you can "fix in the mix" and it'll never be as good as if you'd done it right in first place.

d) Kind of related to the previous one. Work on getting good takes out of your talent. This can involve anything from couple of candles for the mood to stripping the singer naked and flogging his bare buttocks while he grunts an ode to his satanic masters (ok, I made that one up). Mostly it's just making people comfortable. If the singer needs to hold on to his 57/58 for the best performance, at least give it a shot. Sure the quality will not be as good, but I believe it's secondary to getting that magical take on tape.

e) Parallel process. What I mean is that I often find it a good idea to mix some dry signal with the effected output to retain some life and natural sound of the instrument. This might be common sense, though, dunno.

f) Avoid soloing tracks when making adjustments. I'm so guilty of this myself and I always end up over-EQing and overprocessing stuff because of this. Any adjustments should generally work towards making the mix sound better. Spending hours EQing that guitar track only to find out the original one sits in the mix better is no fun.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby tallowwaters » Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:02 am

Windreaper wrote:
d) Kind of related to the previous one. Work on getting good takes out of your talent. This can involve anything from couple of candles for the mood to stripping the singer naked and flogging his bare buttocks while he grunts an ode to his satanic masters (ok, I made that one up). Mostly it's just making people comfortable. If the singer needs to hold on to his 57/58 for the best performance, at least give it a shot. Sure the quality will not be as good, but I believe it's secondary to getting that magical take on tape.



Just let the dumbass hold a live 57 and put up a nice ribbon 1 1/2 feet away.

I will give some really impractical advice for looneys in a while here.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby ned-ryarson » Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:44 am

divineaudio wrote:2. for your whole mix to sound right, each individual track (drums/synth/bass/vocals/etc...) will NOT sound right when you solo it.


does this mean, when part of a 'big' mix, individual or solo'd tracks can still sound really raw?
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby TrondC » Wed Sep 17, 2008 2:09 pm

-listen to your stuff through different medias. I have a very crappy pair of headphones that cut out a lot of bass, hence I always boost the bass way too much. things will sound a lot different depending on where you listen. I always end up with my tracks being too quiet (comparing to any commercial track) and too bass heavy.

-keep bass and bassdrums center of the stereo field.

-write down how you want your song to be, number of repetitions, buildups/teardowns etc. especially true for instrumental dance music (which I believe a lot here are doing) where most loops sound awesome when jamming, then very uninteresting when listening to it as a track several times. even loop based music needs transitions and some careful work with arrangement to be worth listening to more than once.

other than that, focus on the task at hand: recording vs. just jamming are (as everyone else already pointed out) two very different beasts. most recordings end up uninspiring if you're just in a playful and not in a working mode.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby wiss » Wed Sep 17, 2008 4:29 pm

learn from your mistakes
write everything down or take pics of settings
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby tallowwaters » Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:07 pm

TrondC wrote:
-keep bass and bassdrums center of the stereo field.



I dunno, when I mix, I picture where band members would be on stage... Bass is usually a little left of center...
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby shaft9000 » Thu Sep 18, 2008 2:21 am

RobotHeroes wrote:
Carey M wrote:
shaft9000 wrote::idea: record in the nude whenever possible :idea:

Note to self: never buy gear from "shaft"...

- CM


Additional Note: Don't sit in any of his chairs.


"it's a JOKE, fool!"
Image

besides, my chairs are cleaner than your underwear

OK, here's some 'serious' recommendations:

Be Prepared -

-make workmixes and give 'em to the mixdown engineer so he knows what you expect and what you know how to do.

-if you're in a band, how you rehearse can make the difference between two days and two weeks in the studio.

-for all-electronic, have all your tracks in your DAW file ready for use on the studio's system, and keep them isolated;
don't pre-mix ANYTHING that is supposed to sound big. Whenever possible keep MIDI intact and track the audio in the studio's DAW/tapemachine to take advantage of their nice preamps. This way your engineer in the studio can track each instrument through their expensive preamps and not be stuck w/ the results from your soundcard's cheap preamps.
2600.solus.modcan a.eurorack.cs60.JP8.Juno6.A6.sunsyn.volcakeys.jd990.tb303.x0xb0x.revolution.
999.m1am1.RY30.svc350.memotron

shaft9000.muffwiggler.com <- singles & mixtape
shaft9000.bandcamp.com <- spacemusic album
youtube.com/shaft9000 <- various synth demos and studies
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby divineaudio » Thu Sep 18, 2008 5:13 am

dddoherty@hotmail.com wrote:
divineaudio wrote:2. for your whole mix to sound right, each individual track (drums/synth/bass/vocals/etc...) will NOT sound right when you solo it.


does this mean, when part of a 'big' mix, individual or solo'd tracks can still sound really raw?



basically. though i suppose it depends on your definition of raw.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby Pilot352 » Sat Sep 20, 2008 9:19 pm

One thing I do to make my guitar sound HUGE is copy the track to another ( assuming the guitar was recorded in MONO). Then I offset one of the tracks a few milliseconds. Just a little offset will do. Then hard pan each channel left and right. I do this for the rhythm / background guitars. Keep the lead parts centered and mono.

NEVER mix or master with headphones. You will always get a horrible sound when listening through other equipment if you do. A good set of studio monitors goes a long way.

A note on studio monitors: I asked a guy at GC once what the difference between regular speakers and studio monitors is. He told me that studio monitors have a flat response. After auditioning three different brands of studio monitors of the same calibre, I asked "why do they sound different?" He said "because they are built differently.". I then asked, "If they are all suppose to have a 'flat in response', they should all sound exactly the same.". He then looked at me with a confused expression and asked... "Do you want to buy a set?". I said no, and left the store.


The moral of the story is that in my opinion, there is no difference other that marketing.

Always listen to songs on an album together, one after another and listen for inconsistencies in the sound. I recently was asked to preview a religious album soon to be released and I noticed a major difference in one of the songs (sound wise) compared to the others. The reverb was totally a different type. Instrument placement was different (same instruments used on most songs). It just seemed out of place. The Engineer who mastered the album wrote back thanking me because he totally missed it by not listening all the way through.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby GeneralBigbag » Sat Sep 20, 2008 11:21 pm

Pilot352 wrote:NEVER mix or master with headphones. You will always get a horrible sound when listening through other equipment if you do. A good set of studio monitors goes a long way.


You can get pretty far mixing on a good set of headphones (I've got some ATH M50Ss which I routinely use), it's when you mix solely on headphones that you start running into major problems.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby piRoN » Sun Sep 21, 2008 2:35 am

Pilot352 wrote:One thing I do to make my guitar sound HUGE is copy the track to another ( assuming the guitar was recorded in MONO). Then I offset one of the tracks a few milliseconds. Just a little offset will do. Then hard pan each channel left and right. I do this for the rhythm / background guitars. Keep the lead parts centered and mono.

This technique is not mono-compatible however, which is worth bearing in mind. If summed to mono you'll end up with a flanged sound on the parts treated in this way.

A note on studio monitors: I asked a guy at GC once what the difference between regular speakers and studio monitors is. He told me that studio monitors have a flat response. After auditioning three different brands of studio monitors of the same calibre, I asked "why do they sound different?" He said "because they are built differently.". I then asked, "If they are all suppose to have a 'flat in response', they should all sound exactly the same.". He then looked at me with a confused expression and asked... "Do you want to buy a set?". I said no, and left the store.

Studio monitors have a flatter response than hi-fi components, not a purely flat response - that's just an oversimplification. Yes, they will sound different to each other, but to say that there is no difference between consumer hi-fi speakers and studio monitors is just silly. (Unless of course you start getting into the rarefied atmosphere of reference hi-fi and such, but that's another pot of poissons). There's also factors such as the amplifier's frequency response to consider, as well as time alignment and so on.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby Pilot352 » Sun Sep 21, 2008 9:44 am

piRoN wrote:
Pilot352 wrote:One thing I do to make my guitar sound HUGE is copy the track to another ( assuming the guitar was recorded in MONO). Then I offset one of the tracks a few milliseconds. Just a little offset will do. Then hard pan each channel left and right. I do this for the rhythm / background guitars. Keep the lead parts centered and mono.

This technique is not mono-compatible however, which is worth bearing in mind. If summed to mono you'll end up with a flanged sound on the parts treated in this way.


Hmmm, that's an interesting point, one that I had not considered. I never experienced any flange effect in mono when doing this. However, I could see that there would be a signal "nulling" potential if the offset is not put in the right place. Maybe because I offset the signal very slightly I never hear it. Anyway, who listens to MONO anyway. :D

piRoN wrote:
A note on studio monitors: I asked a guy at GC once what the difference between regular speakers and studio monitors is. He told me that studio monitors have a flat response. After auditioning three different brands of studio monitors of the same calibre, I asked "why do they sound different?" He said "because they are built differently.". I then asked, "If they are all suppose to have a 'flat in response', they should all sound exactly the same.". He then looked at me with a confused expression and asked... "Do you want to buy a set?". I said no, and left the store.

Studio monitors have a flatter response than hi-fi components, not a purely flat response - that's just an oversimplification. Yes, they will sound different to each other, but to say that there is no difference between consumer hi-fi speakers and studio monitors is just silly. (Unless of course you start getting into the rarefied atmosphere of reference hi-fi and such, but that's another pot of poissons). There's also factors such as the amplifier's frequency response to consider, as well as time alignment and so on.


I did omit the statement "... in my opinion..." - sorry about that. If you are buying a good quality set of home speakers, emphasis on the words "good quality", you want to buy speakers which are dynamically flat in response or as close as flat as possible. I will however, stand by my statement that it is "my opinion" that the difference between studio monitors and a quality set of home speakers is - ZERO!!!. Unless ALL studio monitors have a true flat response and sound exactly the same -vs- almost flat in home speakers. But as you stated, this never never be true. Unless technically proven wrong I will remain defiant on this one. Your current argument just repeats the "flat response" argument which echo's marketing departments of most studio manufacturers. Give me a technical argument and I will yield to your greatness.

I will agree that there is one difference though.. Typically studio reference monitors are of a better build quality and many studio monitors are amplified. They may do allot with the amplifier design, but as for the un-powered "studio" monitors... well, I respectfully disagree.

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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby Alex Hamilton » Sun Sep 21, 2008 12:24 pm

Pilot352 wrote:Give me a technical argument and I will yield to your greatness.


Read this article:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep08/articles/yamahans10.htm

There's a technical argument for you. There is more to speaker design than simply getting a 'flat frequency response'. This is a phrase that doesn't even mean much anyway - the frequency response is dependent on the signal being sent to the speaker. If you look at diagrams of frequency response, they'll say 'measured at (distance x) with a power rating of yW'. Also, most people don't listen to music - or mix - in anechoic chambers, in which case the room is affecting the sound very dramatically.

I actually made a thread about time-domain vs frequency response here:

http://www.vintagesynth.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=41637

But sadly no-one's commented.

Pilot352 wrote:If you are buying a good quality set of home speakers, emphasis on the words "good quality", you want to buy speakers which are dynamically flat in response or as close as flat as possible.


No you don't. You want to buy ones that sound very good, with very low distortion and with a frequency response that suits the kind of music you're listening to on them. You probably also want them to be passive, so that you can control the volume from a single point and don't have to carefully ensure that both speakers are equally loud.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby Windreaper » Sun Sep 21, 2008 2:30 pm

I used to use that guitar spreading technique (copying, hard panning and delaying the other side about 5-7ms). However, doubling the part and then hard panning sounds so much better I don't bother anymore. Same goes for vocal harmonies (ie. double them, don't just copy and pitch shift).

Btw, B&W hifi speakers are a common sight in studios working with classical music (following the famous 801 introduced in 1979 that was used in Abbey Road among others). They're reasonably flat and it makes sense to have a reference speaker similar to what most classical music fans use. But yes, hifi speakers are generally designed to sound pleasant while studio monitors are usually designed to sound as neutral and revealing as possible (although some budget monitors tend to sound like a pair of glorified home/computer speakers). Cheap speakers are however useful for reference. The NS10 is all but linear with about +7dB at 1500Hz and next to no bass response. However, mixes sounding good on them also tend to translate properly. Of course there's always the element of learning your speakers and room which is the most important thing in the long run. It's always useful to have a set of computer speakers, a boombox or an ipod around to check how the mixes translate to real world conditions (not everyone has an expensive hifi system in a treated room).

Besides, flat isn't always good. The Genelec 103x-series was designed to be as flat as possible and I have to roll off the treble a bit to stop my ears from bleeding. Sure they're very transparent and pretty much every studio has a pair of them, but I've always found them very fatiguing speakers. I nowadays use Adam speakers that have a bit smoother treble, thanks to the ribbon tweeter, but still provide all that crucial mid-freq information and tight bass (even though I have to check bass on familiar headphones because my room isn't that great, either). They definitely are the "better" speaker to me.
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