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-   -   Mixing solo fingerstyle guitar (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=239758)

DarkestDreaming 01-25-2012 07:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 2911730)
going back the original "how do I sound like Andy McKee" question, record with mics, and also record a pickup. You can record the pickup on a mono track, so you can actually make good use of that pan control :-) Blend with the mics to taste.


actually what i really want to know is the post-production of a solo acoustic guitar recording, meaning how do you edit the track after the recording phase

I mentioned Antoine Dufour and Andy McKee mostly as a reference to a general style that is opposed to say, Bert Jansch

Doug Young 01-25-2012 08:20 PM

Thats of course exactly what my video is about. I tried to show every setting, every tool used. What do you want to know that I left out?

mc1 01-25-2012 08:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 2912380)
Thats of course exactly what my video is about. I tried to show every setting, every tool used. What do you want to know that I left out?

i'll jump in and ask a question. how did you get rid of chair noise?

also, any comments on reducing breath sounds. i tried recording something today and it was a little breathy (but not in a good way).

rick-slo 01-25-2012 09:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mc1 (Post 2912385)
i'll jump in and ask a question. how did you get rid of chair noise?

also, any comments on reducing breath sounds. i tried recording something today and it was a little breathy (but not in a good way).

Don't get these noises recorded in the first place. Trying to remove them later is highly unsatisfactory.

Unless you want something quite different than the real guitar sound there is not a lot to do post recording if there was a good recording in the first place.

DarkestDreaming 01-25-2012 09:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 2912380)
Thats of course exactly what my video is about. I tried to show every setting, every tool used. What do you want to know that I left out?

The video was comprehensive and your explanations were thorough. Just clarifying my question for the other readers :)

Also, i dont use most of the plug-ins described in your video and when I full-screen it I cant see the parameters as it is rather pixelated. I guess thats secondary anyway since most of it is experimenting anyway, like you mentioned.

Doug Young 01-26-2012 01:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mc1 (Post 2912385)
i'll jump in and ask a question. how did you get rid of chair noise?

also, any comments on reducing breath sounds. i tried recording something today and it was a little breathy (but not in a good way).

I agree with Rick-slo, this more of a tracking question that a mixing issue. Get a chair that doesn't squeak, and practice sitting still when you play. Keep mics away from your mouth, and stay calm and breathe gently. You can hear breathing on a lot of acoustic guitar recordings, but you should be able to minimize it with some practice and mic placement.

If all else fails, there are tools like iZotope RX that can remove noises, and you can always edit in the same spot from an alternate take. Depends on your software how that works, but it's basically cut and paste.

Doug Young 01-26-2012 01:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DarkestDreaming (Post 2912427)
Also, i dont use most of the plug-ins described in your video and when I full-screen it I cant see the parameters as it is rather pixelated. I guess thats secondary anyway since most of it is experimenting anyway, like you mentioned.

If you watch in HD (1080p) and expand to full screen, you should see the same resolution as was on my screen, 1920x1280. It's an exact replica, right down to scale and resolution of my screen. There are thousands of plugins, so yes, you'd have to extrapolate to whatever you have. Same with the DAW. But I'm not doing much that's very fancy here, and for solo fingerstyle guitar, I think that's typical - mixing of a single solo guitar track is pretty straightforward. Most of these effects, and most DAWs are more or less the same as far as controls go. Reverb times, compression thresholds, EQs. There are enough of these plugins that anyone you talk to is likely to use something different. But the concepts are the same.

I'd say "listening" might be a better word than experimenting. That's pretty much the story of the mastering part as well. Listen carefully and try to figure out how to improve anything you don't like. Hopefully, if you've done the tracking part right, there won't be much you don't like, so there's nothing to do but perhaps add a little reverb.

Doug Young 01-26-2012 02:57 AM

By the way, DD, if you want, I'd be happy to take a crack at mixing a track of yours. We can try to get whatever sound you have in mind, and I can tell you exactly what I did, or better or worse. I did this exercise with redavide a few weeks ago. I enjoy hearing what other people have recorded, and working with different tracks. I always learn something from the process. Send me something, and I'd be glad to take a crack at it, if you have any interest. Just PM me.

mc1 01-26-2012 04:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rick-slo (Post 2912423)
Don't get these noises recorded in the first place. Trying to remove them later is highly unsatisfactory.
...

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 2912575)
I agree with Rick-slo, this more of a tracking question that a mixing issue. Get a chair that doesn't squeak, and practice sitting still when you play. Keep mics away from your mouth, and stay calm and breathe gently. You can hear breathing on a lot of acoustic guitar recordings, but you should be able to minimize it with some practice and mic placement.

If all else fails, there are tools like iZotope RX that can remove noises, and you can always edit in the same spot from an alternate take. Depends on your software how that works, but it's basically cut and paste.

thanks for the answers. just to clarify, there were two questions. in teoaagr, doug you mentioned that you cleaned up some chair noises. so my first question was just wondering how you did that. i think you answered that with izoptope rx.

the question about breath sounds wasn't clear, but i was looking for pointers on reducing the sounds when recording, not after the fact. i appreciate the tips. i think i'm a noisy breather, and my face and the mic both seem to want to point toward the 12th fret. maybe i can build a little shield for the mic. at any rate, i should start my own thread about this. thanks for the help.
.

DarkestDreaming 01-26-2012 05:44 AM

Doug, that would be very much appreciated! I've sent you a track which i recorded.. to the email that you provided at your profile. The one that is hosted at your site :)

RRuskin 01-26-2012 09:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mc1 (Post 2912385)
i'll jump in and ask a question. how did you get rid of chair noise?

also, any comments on reducing breath sounds. i tried recording something today and it was a little breathy (but not in a good way).

There's a reason why studios use sturdy metal folding chairs. They don't squeak or creak. I've had players use disposable face masks to remind themselves to breath slowly & quietly.

Doug Young 01-26-2012 12:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mc1 (Post 2912625)
maybe i can build a little shield for the mic. at any rate, i should start my own thread about this. thanks for the help.
.

They do make wind screens for mics, used for vocalists, but I'd try to just work on breathing and mic placement first. Breathing's a tough one, because we have to do it :-) I've blown directly across mics, that pretty much kills the take! I've heard other engineers say the same thing as Rick, keeping a supply of drugstore masks handy.

Noises happen, tho, and RX is a pretty impressive, if not particularly cheap, solution for those occasional things that occur despite best efforts. (Haven't had much luck with it for breathing, tho). My chair doesn't squeak, but you can still get rustling sounds from moving, even your arm moving on the guitar. I've had recordings where I forgot to take my watch off, and you could hear the tick, tick, tick of the second hand. There seems to be no end of noise sources...

Here's a cute example of the hazards of home recording and how RX can help. This was just some test I was doing, nothing that was a keeper, but I ended up keeping it as a memory, since my long time cat, Missy passed away last year. Listen to her at 4 seconds in on the tail of this tune. (Cats, wives, neighbor's cars, airplanes - they always pop up on right on the quiet tail, don't they? :-)

Meow on tail

You can see the meow in RX (selected):

http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/mp3/meow.jpg

Click the "repair" button and it's gone:

http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/mp3/no_meow.jpg

And now check out how the fixed track sounds:

No Meow!

mc1 01-26-2012 12:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 2913014)
No Meow!

that was pretty cool. i like the meow, though, it kind of fit. i wonder if missy meowed because: of the harmonic; she could sense the tune was over; coincidence.

Doug Young 01-26-2012 12:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mc1 (Post 2913027)
that was pretty cool. i like the meow, though, it kind of fit. i wonder if missy meowed because: of the harmonic; she could sense the tune was over; coincidence.

Yeah, I considered using that clip as the closing of my latest CD, with the meow left in! I assume it was an editorial comment on my playing, or perhaps "Good, you're done, can you shut up so I can sleep now?"

mc1 01-26-2012 12:47 PM

or "good you're done, i'm about to jump on your lap".

Doug Young 01-26-2012 01:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DarkestDreaming (Post 2912648)
Doug, that would be very much appreciated! I've sent you a track which i recorded.. to the email that you provided at your profile. The one that is hosted at your site :)

Got your track, nice playing, and really a pretty good sound. Do you mind if we discuss it here where people can chime in as well?

DarkestDreaming 01-26-2012 07:36 PM

Not a problem, Doug. This is after all a forum where a free flow of information should be happening

Doug Young 01-26-2012 08:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DarkestDreaming (Post 2913519)
Not a problem, Doug. This is after all a forum where a free flow of information should be happening

OK, great. I'll do a mix and post some info as a follow up shortly. But, a couple of questions and comments right off the bat.

It helps to have a reference track. This is very much in the style of Antoine DuFour, so I'm assuming that's the sound you're shooting for? Do you have a track whose sound you like? He tends to have different amounts of reverb, for example. Stylistically, I thought Wapus was very close to your track, but let me know if you hear your ideal mix as being more like something else.

As far as your basic track, the biggest issue is that it's mono. With a few rare exceptions, the sound of modern fingerstyle is stereo. I'm wondering if you're thinking that the openness, etc, of finished tracks like Antoine's come from post-production? Part of it is for sure, but the biggest single difference in your track vs Antoine's sound is that he's in stereo. Recording this with 2 mics would make a huge, huge, huge difference. Did I mention huge? :-)

And of course, you've already partially mixed this. Even having the separate pickup and mic tracks would provide more options during a mix.

Your track sounds pretty good, tho, other than being mono. There are two main issues.

The 1st is a bit of hum, clearly heard in the beginning. I can knock that down or out, but I'd suggest tracing down the source. I suspect it's coming from the pickup.

The 2nd one is that the levels are rather hot. You have a lot of percussive peaks here, all hitting at 0db. Unless you did some processing to create this, I assume you just recorded too hot, and they're clearly clipping. They're so short and sharp that it's not a huge deal, you won't hear the distortion, but in general, you want to leave some headroom, at least a few db above the highest peak. You have plenty of room with 24 bits, no reason to record that loud. You can bring up the final level during the mix and mastering.

mcoliver77 01-26-2012 09:32 PM

I'm very, very new to recording at this level of detail so I really find this discussion interesting. I need to first say a big THANKS for all the information you guys have contributed! Tremendous help to a noob like me. :)

Doug, hope you don't mind me asking. When recording the pickup, I'm guessing plug a cable in the guitar with the other end into the recording PC? And do you recommend putting an EQ preamp in between?

Reason I ask is because I tried plugging my guitars and recording direct (use the PC's mic/line in, not really optimal I know, but I was curious. And I have yet to buy my first PC preamp interface). They all sound very...digital, trying to find a better word for it but.

When I compare that sound to the spill I was getting from another mic (H1 used as usb vocal mic), the more it sounded very different.

...the experiment and recording continues... :)

Doug Young 01-26-2012 10:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mcoliver77 (Post 2913669)
Doug, hope you don't mind me asking. When recording the pickup, I'm guessing plug a cable in the guitar with the other end into the recording PC? And do you recommend putting an EQ preamp in between?

I doubt you'll get a very good sound that way. The mic or line inputs on a computer are usually below the quality threshold for decent sound, and for a pickup, it's possible that the impedance is too low to work well. Some sort of preamp for the pickup should help a lot, and almost any recording interface is likely to work better than the builtin PC inputs.

DarkestDreaming 01-26-2012 11:13 PM

Doug, this is in fact an excerpt of an Antoine Dufour piece called 'Reality". However, i dont think we'll use that as a reference track because he was recorded on a baritone guitar, down a 4th from what i was playing it in and he used an LR Baggs magnetic to get that sound. Let's use Wapus as a reference track :)

I mentioned in my email to you that i recorded it with the intention of just testing the KnK pickup out, which at the time i just purchased, so i just sent the mic/pickup blend to a mono track for convenience. That was also why i recorded it too hot, as i did a few takes on different settings and didnt want to master them all for the purpose of comparison with some external raw tracks which i thought were good recordings.

Also there was no external mic being used. If you wish, i could re-record it with the pickup and mic being two separate mono tracks (with lower levels of course), that way you can make a pseudo-stereo sound?

The track was not mixed at all. I sent it to you right as i recorded it but i did take a lot of time tweaking the KnK preamp so that it was as balanced as possible going into the recording. Also, the hum was in fact a table fan blowing at me... i wasn't really recording it with the intention of making a proper track, just testing out the pickup so i sorta not bothered, plus it was really hot XD

Doug Young 01-27-2012 12:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DarkestDreaming (Post 2913734)
However, i dont think we'll use that as a reference track because he was recorded on a baritone guitar,

yeah, that will likely have a very different sound, but I'll check it out.

Quote:

The track was not mixed at all.
Well, that's a "mix" happening at your preamp level. I was assuming you were using an external mic, tho. That's quite a good sound for a direct pickup recording. I'd say don't bother with redoing it, what you really need to do to get some real mics into the process - just separating the pickup sources out isn't likely to be that much help compared to what you have. Did Antoine really record this tune *just* with a magnetic pickup? Listening to it, it seems unlikely, there's a lot of stereo going on there. I could believe it's at least one external mic and a mag, more likely 2+ the pickup.

In any case, so what we're really doing here is mixing a pickup recording, which is a pretty big handicap compared to the sounds you're trying to mimic. I know I've beat this horse to the point of death, but I assume the real question behind your original post was "how do I get a sound that's like what I hear on modern fingerstyle recordings?". And the answer invariably is "start with a good stereo micing technique". That's how it's done. You'll never match the sounds you hear on 99% of contemporary solo fingerstyle recordings with a pickup or even a single mic.

I'll make a stab at a mix of this and post it shortly, but I don't think it will really achieve what you want, because we're starting from the wrong point - a pickup.

DarkestDreaming 01-27-2012 12:36 AM

the KnK system is actually a contact pickup and an internal electret condenser mic. Does that count?

Also when my friend asked him how he recorded this tune (the youtube version):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQlyHbu0zz4

he mentioned that it was only his knk trinity, so it was kinda one of the reasons i bought that system

Doug Young 01-27-2012 01:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DarkestDreaming (Post 2913764)
the KnK system is actually a contact pickup and an internal electret condenser mic. Does that count?

Yes, I'm familiar with the system - I use a K&K with a much upgraded mic myself. It in no way is a match for external studio mics. If you want the sound people get on fingerstyle records, you need mics. Seriously. If you want an "ok home pickup recording", to hear yourself and improve your playing, share with a few friends, etc, a pickup will probably do. But if you want to sound like the pros, you need mics.

Quote:


Also when my friend asked him how he recorded this tune (the youtube version):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQlyHbu0zz4

he mentioned that it was only his knk trinity, so it was kinda one of the reasons i bought that system
The K&K is a very nice pickup for live use. Recording, less so. Antoine may very well use one for his you tube videos, tho you can clearly see a large condenser mic in the shadow in this video. Maybe it's turned off, but this does not sound like a pickup-only recording to me, tho it certainly has a lot of pickup sound in there.

Honest, if you want a good recording of an acoustic guitar, use external mics! It's not even a matter of opinion.

DarkestDreaming 01-27-2012 01:20 AM

Even if it is a pair of Rode NT-5s in an untreated room? I'm hesitant because i've heard a lot of crappy recordings done in that manner... and something better than the above scenario will cost me a small fortune. How much do you think is a good budget to allocate for a good home recording with acoustic guitar, factoring only mics and room treatment.

Doug Young 01-27-2012 01:31 AM

OK, here's a mix. This isn't really what I expected to do, I didn't realize you were trying to record with just a pickup. Please, try mics! It will change your whole perspective. I'd be glad to help out again if you try using mics and need some help figuring it out. Meanwhile here's the best I could do with the mono pickup recording:

Here's your original:

Original Mono pickup recording

And here's my attempt at a mix:

Mix

I'll save the project, so if you want to know details about settings, I'm happy to provide them. But basically. I used iZotope RX to reduce the hum, and also cut off the beginning blank space so you don't hear what's left of the noise. I used a limiter on the track, set to just trigger on the percussive peaks. This reduced them by about 6 db, without touching any of the non-percussive parts, which then lets me raise the overall volume of the track. I used Logic's stereo simulator to add a little bit of fake stereo. That's debatable, but I think it's a little better than the mono. This plugin works by EQing each side differently, producing differences that your ears hear as sort of stereo. I added little midrange boost to warm the track up, about 3db centered at 18Hz. I added a generous amount of short "room reverb", with a reverb time of 0.8 seconds - this adds some space and again sort of substitutes for being mono, adding some width, and then a tiny bit of longer reverb, about 3 seconds. Top it all off with the Ozone maximer compressor to bring up the overall punch.

I think it sounds pretty nice for a pickup, but it's still a pickup.

DarkestDreaming 01-27-2012 01:40 AM

Awesome Doug. I'll have to wait until i get home to hear it. I don't have proper monitoring now. Thanks! Will consider the mics too

Doug Young 01-27-2012 01:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DarkestDreaming (Post 2913784)
Even if it is a pair of Rode NT-5s in an untreated room? I'm hesitant because i've heard a lot of crappy recordings done in that manner... and something better than the above scenario will cost me a small fortune. How much do you think is a good budget to allocate for a good home recording with acoustic guitar, factoring only mics and room treatment.

You can do a lot on a budget. Check out the $500 total budget example I posted toward the end of my "Evolution" thread. I could get a much better sound than that with a bit more attention to details. Here's the track, so you don't have to chase it down. Zoom H4n, a pair of Audio Technica AT2020 that I paid $50 each for. No room treatment.

http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/mp3/B...ording_mix.wav

May not knock you out, but I don't think it sounds "crappy".

An example of a budget commercial recording I know of is Adam Rafferty's Christmas CD. He recorded that on a Zoom H4n with a pair of NT5s in an untreated bedroom. Even a Zoom H4n with the builtin internal mics ($299 total) will beat the sound of a pickup.

redavide 01-27-2012 02:03 AM

Obviously, but I'll say it anyway, Doug's mix brings the original much, much closer to the sound of the Dufour clips . . .

I think what's most responsible is the increased "punch" of the percussive hits on the strings, etc. In the original, they were kind of dead -- not like a Dufour recording where those string hits and slaps sound like a drummer really whacking a snare drum. In Doug's mix, that critical part of the Dufouresque sound is a big improvement.

Also, the added reverb brings it closer to Dufour -- his percussive hits linger on for a long time . . . and now, so do DD's -- originally they kind of died out much too quickly.

Doug, can you be more specific about the reverb you used?

Doug Young 01-27-2012 02:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by redavide (Post 2913798)
Doug, can you be more specific about the reverb you used?


The short reverb was the Lexicon Native Room reverb:

http://www.lexiconpro.com/product.php?id=163

Really nice reverbs. Rick-Slo actually turned me onto these. I didn't think I needed another reverb, but I tried the the demo after he recommended it, and immediately didn't even blink at the rather outrageous price. They all just sound great. The one I used is an "Ambience" algorithm, it's just a very short room sound, so it tends to add some space to even a single mono sound. Most reverbs should have some sort of "small room" patch that you can tweak to get this effect, some just do it better than others. Another reverb that works great for this is the TC Electronic VSS3, which is designed mostly to try to reproduce real spaces, often used in movies. There are patches along the lines of "Small Living Room", "Long Hallway", "Front Car Seat", "Backyard", "Damp Basement", "Phone Booth", and so on (I made those up, but the default patches are like that), and it's all pretty realistic. It would have been a good choice for this, to add some stereo space, but due to a little computer problem, I have that card pulled right now (It's a TC Electronic Powercore effect, which requires a hardware card).

By the way, a cheap way to get a great sounding reverb, especially room sounds like this, is to find a convolution reverb and load it up with the free Bricasti samples. I used to use SIR, but I'm not sure it's free anymore. but many DAWs have a convolution reverb these days that you can load up with impulses. There are a lot available free, and the Bricasti impulses are probably as close as you can get to a $4000 reverb without spending a dime.

For the longer reverb, I used the Universal Audio Lexicon 224 emulation, a classic reverb. But it's barely in there because on both the reference tracks we talked about, Antoine's sound wasn't all that wet. I was mostly again trying to add some width and space to the mono track, so adding a small touch seemed to help a little. This reverb's pretty lively (it plays a big part in Michael Hedges' recorded sound, I believe), so it's nice for something like this where the pickup sound has so little space and animation to it. You can read about it and hear demos here:

http://www.uaudio.com/store/reverbs/lexicon-224.html


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