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 Afamily » Sun Jun 05, 2011 12:56 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:Bass players have been doing that for years, split the signal to the lows and the highs and let the lows go through clean and fuzz/phase/wah/etc. the highs. It's a bit easier to do with synths and a DAW though, cause you just copy the track then use a HPF on one and a LPF on the other.

Powerful bottom end + cutting high end = happy bassists.



I have a question... I currently run my SE1x's out with a y mono cable into my MOTU Ultralite, 2 seperate channels, and do the cutoff LPF at 1k and HPF 1k. I read the tip from "Remixer's Bible" anyways, its done wonders for the sound. But now that I've read this, I technicall should be able to just duplicate the channels in Ableton and do the same thing... yes? Or am I maintaining a fidelity advantage of sorts, by running true seperate inputs? Just curious.. thanks.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby Stab Frenzy » Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:43 pm

No, running two signals with a Y cable isn't going to add anything at all. Copying the track in Live gives you the same thing, in fact it will give you perfect phase coherency which you possibly might not get from splitting the signal and running into two inputs, due to potential differences in the circuitry of the two inputs.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby Afamily » Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:30 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:No, running two signals with a Y cable isn't going to add anything at all. Copying the track in Live gives you the same thing, in fact it will give you perfect phase coherency which you possibly might not get from splitting the signal and running into two inputs, due to potential differences in the circuitry of the two inputs.




Noted. I'll try that out right now. Thanks.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby gr4nf » Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:35 pm

Things I learned recording my last album:

1. Basses (or maybe it's bass players) sometimes play one note in a song louder than all the others (usually an open string). This is really easy to fix with a really sharp notch in the EQ at the note and the octave above it.

2. Just because your amp has a line out on it doesn't mean you should forget the idea of miking the cab.

3. Before you mix in your DAW, cut every track by at least -2 dB. I don't know why this isn't the default.

4. Miking every drum is just one of many sounds you might want out of your set. Depending on what your going for, 5,000 dollars of drum-specific mikes might sounds less desirable than just two overheads and a kick, or even one close dynamic and one far condensor.

5. The solo button is for finding which track is humming, or causing that one annoying click, not for turning every single track into a fat-as-orson-wells lead sound. It's called a 'mix' for a reason.

6. Reverb is not that cool. If you notice it immediately, you're probably doing it wrong (purposefully spacey effects excepted).

7. If you don't like the sounds you're getting from a mic, try a different one, even if it's not the one that's "supposed" to be best for that particular application.

8. Compression, even in conservative amounts, can destroy an acoustic guitar or piano, or at least drastically alter it in an arguably objectionable manner.

9. Listen to musci before you mix, on the speakers you intend to mix on, and at the volume you intend to mix at. Get used to it like you would get used to a car.

10. Consider proffesional mastering. The big shots probably know what a compressor is for and how to use it. In my experiance, if they charge by the song, it's high end and expensive, and if it's by the hour, it's quick, cheap, and passable, if not beautiful.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby tekkentool » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:45 am

I disagree with the points about compression on pianos. I mean one of the great things about a piano or an acoustic guitar is the dynamic range of volume obviously. But unless you're doing a classical recording that ends out being a pain. Either fader riding or compression is necessary and doesn't really destroy the sound because pianos gets softer and changes its timbre depending on the velocity anyway.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby phesago » Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:07 pm

This thread was a very good read!

The few things I have learned so far are:

1.Take short breaks
2. Get the noise out of my system before I work on a patch(synth specific I guess). It may be just me, but sometimes I find myself patching rough sounds out of boredom. Anything to scare the cats I guess, I am only half kidding...:twisted:
3. NOTES NOTES NOTES.... there have been too many projects I cant really work with because I forgot to write stuff down. So far I have noticed this as being a common thing in this thread.
4. When working on a mix, I tend to use head phones, monitors and make other people be subjected to my garbage. I try to stay objective, much at my wife's expense. :D
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby iProg » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:07 am

gr4nf wrote:Things I learned recording my last album:
5. The solo button is for finding which track is humming, or causing that one annoying click, not for turning every single track into a fat-as-orson-wells lead sound. It's called a 'mix' for a reason..


Amen to that.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby Stab Frenzy » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:29 am

gr4nf wrote:3. Before you mix in your DAW, cut every track by at least -2 dB. I don't know why this isn't the default.

It's probably not the default because most people can Figure out how to record at the right level and use the faders when they're mixing.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby adekoyote » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:14 am

Hello all. One thing I have been doing with my groovebox(MC808) is reassess exactly what it is capable of as I writing with it.

I have 16 channels that lead into 2 stereo outs....mix and dry.

when I first got the groovebox, I was trying to stuff the 16 parts with every kind of synth patch under the sun.

It was only by writing about my process, that I began to ask "what is the point of that?"

Now I work a bit slower...each part on the box is dedicated to a frequency spectrum.

and if I want depth and complexity, I duplicate the part, and work on making some variations to the synth patch. That way I can layer two to four patches that are focused on accomplishing the same goal.

The truth is that there are very few patterns where ALL of the 16 parts to a pattern are being used...and even if they were it would lead to maxing out polyphony...so in my opinion it is better to organize the parts into functional parts.

especially on certain grooveboxes that have limited outputs, dividing the parts into sonic spectrums is also essential for integration with a DAW(I use ableton). by using this philosophy I can quickly establish: EQ, killswitches, phrase triggering, among other things...

On EQ and synth engines. I really love my MC808 because of the software editor, the drum samples and the compressor mastering effects. I can see why many people detest the MC series, but I am comfortable. The built in compressor, reverb, an mastering functions really make up for the lost time on setting up my patches and rhythm kits. the synth engine is what I love, and while I DESPISE the sequencer...I can sequence in ableton via usb-midi.

I like making the groove, workin in my vocal samples and moving on with my daily exercises. I did do my own eq mastering before this but I applied everything I read on the web...now that I look back at my tracks a year or so later...I smile at what I was trying to do on my own...It was a good effort...but I can tell I have a long way to go.

What i really learned was that everything should sound good without effects...You are the customs officer for everything contributing anything to your mix. All samples need to be reviewed and rereviewed. all synthesis softsynth, hardsynth, acoustic, analogue, or invented needs to be attended to. And lots of people think it is plug and play...It will be okay.

It is not.

There is a dynamic battle between groove and noise. Once something is sounding like it makes sense, then work levels and placement. For every element added, exponential more attention is required to make it feel proper(I like house and techno and all kinds of music...and I don´t think that natural can be substituted with proper)

Effects are either there to enforce unity, or to add interest via metric dissonance, modulation, distortion. For me, less is more...but I really think everyone should do whatever makes them feel better about their creative work
at the end of the mix.

This is working for me now, and it may or may not help the forum. There is also a chance that you might disagree...and that is acceptable. I am just pleased to be able to participate on this forum. Thank you all for the tips so far.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby cryabetes » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:54 pm

(for DAW users only, although I doubt there're too many people here mixing off a 24 track tape machine. Also, this is what works for me; YMMV)
After you've recorded everything, turn all the tracks down. Like, way down. -12db down. Now turn your monitors up (not your main output bus, your monitors). If something isn't coming through, don't turn it up. turn everything else down. Repeat + arrange +edit + tweak until it sounds how you want it. THEN normalize your main out so your volume peaks hit around -0.3. If it still sounds good, save it, if not, then tweak what sounds off by turning things down. [there's a pattern here...]

Also, maybe more of a songwriting thing than a recording thing, don't be afraid of dynamic variance. maybe the verses peak at a quieter volume than the chorus. THAT IS OK. Your valleys don't need to be at -6db, Noel Gallagher; Your peaks will sound much louder if they aren't.

and then a couple other notes as musician things:
- Don't be afraid to use things for purposes they weren't made for*. Sampling your jerkass friend elbow dropping your bed and ruining your box spring may make a better snare drum than your mics can capture from your actual snare drum. Your flute samples will make wonderful bass sounds.
- You can find old stereo tape decks at thrift stores. Pick one up and record from your mixing board every practise. It may yield nothing, it may yield a bunch of nice samples that you can capture at your leisure. It may be that nice 'jerkoffs in the studio' three second clip before a song starts. If it yields nothing, you can re-record on the same media.
- Learn about different types of synthesis, and how to duplicate them without an actual synthesizer. Subtractive and FM synthesis are easiest (they can be duplicated with filter vsts/plug ins and amplitude modulation /vstsplug ins, respectively.) Don't be afraid to use a calculator to figure out what frequencies you want to bring out. Learn to make sounds from white noise.
- Learn your music theory. Too many people dismiss this, saying it'll limit them as a musician, but I've found there's entirely too many avenues from to be traced from music theory to ever really have it limit me.

*this comment, maybe make sure what you're doing isn't going to ruin equipment first - running power amps speaker outs into your guitar amp is not good for it.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby cryabetes » Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:02 pm

Oh and for bedroom musicians-
Record everything, but edit furiously. If you wouldn't want to listen to it, why would an audience?

(side note, I expect this is the reason behind the massive delay in the new Boards of Canada album)
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby tekkentool » Sat Oct 01, 2011 12:41 am

I wrote this initially for another forum. But here it is anyway. Hopefully somebody here is interested in multiband distortion. So lets go!

Multiband Distortion and you:

Different frequency ranges of sounds deal better with distortion. Distorting a sub-bass doesn't give you a very pleasing result, distorting frequencies between 200-600hz tends to give you a very muddy sound. Distorting the sound as a whole isn't often the best course of action.

This is where multiband distortion comes in, because you're effectively splitting the sound up into this different "bands" of frequencies, allowing you to distort them independently from each other. This will give you that huge highly distorted sound that everyone is after without all of the muddiness that can sometimes come with that.

In practice:

My particular technique revolves around splitting a synth sound into 4 different bands, collating them back into one bus again and filtering them. So basically, grab the synth sound that you want to be distorting.

On the channel that you have the synthesizer on. Set up 4 different send channels (ensure that they are all sending, and one of the send is not muting the others).

Send these to four different send tracks. Name these "Low, low mid, mid and high".

also set up a fifth send track called "Filter".

On these 4 bands do this.

Send 1: Eq'd so it's only got low frequencies(0-200hz), mild distortion. Kept in mono.
Send 2: Eq'd for low mid (200-650hz) A little bit more distortion. Still mono.
Send 3: Eq'd for High mid(800-5000hz) RAMP UP THE DISTORTION, you can start adding fun stuff here too like modulation effects, vowel filters. phasers etc.
Send 4: Eq'd for High only (5000 up) Huge amounts of distortion, stereo widener, reverb, sometimes a bit of chorus effects etc.

then put a send on those four tracks to run into the fifth send, the filter.
On the filter track place one or two filters and a limiter (to keep the volume from being too extreme).

Here's a screen cap of my DAW showing the send tracks and the EQ settings I used for each channel.
http://i.imgur.com/UwBWF.png (image far, FAR too big to be embedded).

Synth > 4 send tracks > 1 send track with filter. ;)

What's really great about this as well is that the four send tracks not becoming Fixed Eq's. need a little bit more bass in your sound? just turn up the low fader.

Now for what it sounds like.

here's the synth sound before Multiband distortion. (typical comb filtered reese).


And here's the sound afterwards

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

Postby tallowwaters » Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:35 am

Very nice, Stephen.

I am very wary of large amounts of distortion at 6k and up, to me it's just too fizzy and smeared sounding. I've likely listened to way too much raw/no-fi early and mid 80s hardcore and metal though.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby tekkentool » Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:50 am

I put way too much treble distortion on the sound demo because I was away from proper speakers/headphones at the time.

I like treble distortion though because there's no chance of muddiness, I try and keep most compressed into a strong midrange bark though.

What you were saying though is EXACTLY why this technique is awesome. You don't like 6KHZ up distortion? You can still distort the rest to jesus and leave that region relatively unscathed.
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Re: The Official 'Secrets of the Studio' Thread!

Postby cryabetes » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:47 pm

that could be applicable to effects that aren't distortion too, right? Like, say you wanted a chorus to double in speed for each octave; split up your audible frequency and put your choruses in.....
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