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-   -   Two questions regarding spaced pairs and compression (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=604467)

Doug Young 01-21-2021 08:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SprintBob (Post 6611007)
You all seem to be in pursuit of a recording that requires little to no post processing because the front end is done with care, skill, passion, and commitment to a really good signal chain (great mics, good room, good mic pre).

Well, it's mostly because that's what I find works. I've never had much luck fixing a bad recording with post-processing, at least not to the point that I'm truly happy with it.

I just "fixed" a really terrible recording for someone - a video demo done in a noisy, lively room, probably with phone. But all I could do was take it from unusable to pretty mediocre. There are always improvements one can make, but what I've observed over the years is that the really good recordings (speaking just of solo guitar here) weren't created by studio tricks. You can do things, a little EQ, a little compression, add some reverb, but it all works best if the raw recording sounds pretty good to start with.

The good news is that for solo instrumental guitar, a good quality recording chain isn't that hard to come by or that expensive (all relative...). Room acoustics are most people's biggest challenges, but even that is a lot simpler than for those recording more complex music. With close micing, many people's home environments work out fine for solo guitar.

rick-slo 01-21-2021 08:33 PM

Record solo guitar. Almost always use a matched pair of SD condenser mikes. When I have used a LD and SD combo
I have put the LD on the neck side and the SD on the body side because the neck side has more high frequency content
and I wanted reduce the amount of high frequency sizzle (in theory anyway). Compression I don't use though sometimes
use a volume envelope.

H165 01-22-2021 10:21 AM

[QUOTE]
Quote:

a recording with bad dynamic balance seems like either a bad performance, a bad recording,
There are lots of guitars with bad dynamic balance and oddly resonant notes.

Quote:

or just a piece with both very quiet and very loud parts. In the latter case, a bit of volume automation would be what I'd go for.
I am no expert in the fine nuances here. It seems like automation vs compression is sort of an odd discussion when it's just a one track recording. Compression is often applied to one track and automation is often applied to the whole recording (in this case, one track).

Doug Young 01-22-2021 10:53 AM

[QUOTE=H165;6611457]
Quote:


There are lots of guitars with bad dynamic balance and oddly resonant notes.
Ah. The cure for that is a new guitar :-) I guess you can technically make a great (aka "accurate") recording of a bad sound, but for a good final result, you need the entire signal chain, starting with the guitar, to sound good.

Quote:

I am no expert in the fine nuances here. It seems like automation vs compression is sort of an odd discussion when it's just a one track recording. Compression is often applied to one track and automation is often applied to the whole recording (in this case, one track).
I use automation for anything I'd like to have automated and reproducible, including one track. In many DAWs you can automate anything - you could even automate a variable amount of compression. I use it for volume, reverb, EQ, just about anything. One of the coolest tricks I've run across was in a recording session (solo guitar) I did that was produced by El McMeen and engineered by his regular engineer. There was a short lick where El felt like I had dragged the tempo - just a little ascending run of 4 or 5 notes. We were debating whether to re-record, when El suggested the engineer try using automation to reduce the volume by a few db starting with the 1st note, and then bring it back up by the end of the run. Presto! That fixed the "timing" issue, or at least the perception of it.

It sounds like your idea of compression and automation relates to multi-track recording. For me, with a single track, you're not trying to compress anything to get it to sit in a mix, so you basically don't do those sort of mixing things for 1-track solo guitar. I think of compression as a mastering step, and therefore applies to the "whole mix", which in this case means just one guitar. With a band mix, you might compress individual tracks, and then the mastering engineer might apply overall compression to the mix. With solo guitar, you just have the mastering step.

Automation is certainly useful in a full mix, where you want to bring things in and out. But it's also useful for single track recordings, where you want to have total control. If, for example, you have a good recording, but there's one note that you just hit too hard, it's usually better to bring down that note with automation than to apply heavy enough compression to bring it down. You're less likely to hear "pumping".

KevWind 01-22-2021 11:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by H165 (Post 6611457)
I am no expert in the fine nuances here. It seems like automation vs compression is sort of an odd discussion when it's just a one track recording. Compression is often applied to one track and automation is often applied to the whole recording (in this case, one track).

Well yes and no,
While compression and automation are definitely two different methods , either can be used to tame transient attack, on a solo guitar recording

Yes certainly automation can be applied to an entire recording BUT
As Doug noted and Rick mentioned , it can also be applied to any single section of a single track, and even to a single transient of very short duration on a single track. And as noted can applied to any single track parameter, for any portion of a track, or any plugin parameter for any portion of a track.

One example: I just finished mixing a vocal , where I applied a short duration tape echo plugin (to get a delay type effect) to the entire vocal track in parallel,,, and I also applied that same plugin directly on the vocal track with a longer single repeat on just a few words in that vocal. (so it's automated to be in "Bypass" except for just the words I want echo repeated. But as Doug mentioned I could have simply only use the one plugin on the vocal track itself, and automated the duration parameter to be short for entire track but change to longer for just the words I wanted repeated .

SprintBob 01-22-2021 11:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rick-slo (Post 6611050)
Record solo guitar. Almost always use a matched pair of SD condenser mikes. When I have used a LD and SD combo
I have put the LD on the neck side and the SD on the body side because the neck side has more high frequency content
and I wanted reduce the amount of high frequency sizzle (in theory anyway). Compression I don't use though sometimes
use a volume envelope.

Thanks Derek, I sure like the KISS priorities!

FrankHudson 01-22-2021 12:07 PM

My betters in recording achievement are talking here, so I should be quiet and listen, but I'm only going to the do the later. :)

I think I've tended to over-compress my recordings with just acoustic guitar instrumentation. It may be because I'm also mixing full band mixes and I'm used to "that sound." I also used to test my proposed masters in a car, and without compression a lot of the performance would be unheard. Now-a-days I try to test my masters on earbuds where I can get away with less compression.

It's not a solo guitar instrumental (which Doug Young was discussing) but as to an example of a compressed/limited "bad sound" making for an emotionally compelling recording I'd point to "Street Fighting Man" by the Rolling Stones where Keith Richards was insisting that his acoustic guitar should go through a cheapo portable cassette recorder preamp with its crude auto-level control.

Doug Young 01-22-2021 12:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FrankHudson (Post 6611564)
It's not a solo guitar instrumental (which Doug Young was discussing) but as to an example of a compressed/limited "bad sound" making for an emotionally compelling recording I'd point to "Street Fighting Man" by the Rolling Stones where Keith Richards was insisting that his acoustic guitar should go through a cheapo portable cassette recorder preamp with its crude auto-level control.

Yeah, that's why context is important. A Stones recording is a whole different thing than a solo fingerstyle guitar instrumental, like Bob is asking about. Typical fingerstyle guitar has more in common with classical recording. I say typical because there are some fingerstyle players who are more like bands where various "low-fi" or extra expansive techniques make sense, but I think what Bob's trying to achieve is what you hear from the majority of fingerstyle players these days - a somewhat accurate replication of a good sounding acoustic guitar, which is very different from rock bands who are trying to create new textures and sounds.

min7b5 01-22-2021 01:26 PM

[QUOTE=Doug Young;6611493]
Quote:

Originally Posted by H165 (Post 6611457)
Automation.....If, for example, you have a good recording, but there's one note that you just hit too hard, it's usually better to bring down that note with automation than to apply heavy enough compression to bring it down. You're less likely to hear "pumping".

Of if you have one or two really soft good notes you can make them pop by bumping them up. :)
Using automation to say, just bring up just the tiny sliding sound between two notes, or maybe an unintended pinch harmonic, etc, in a track that is sparse is probably one of my favorite things in all of recording.

min7b5 01-22-2021 01:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 6611589)
...A Stones recording is a whole different thing than a solo fingerstyle guitar instrumental, like Bob is asking about. Typical fingerstyle guitar has more in common with classical recording...

I agree. I've used my plague time to buckle down try to understand more about recording myself at home. And I certainly have gotten more from looking for Youtube tutorials by typing "recording solo jazz piano," or "classical..." When you type "acoustic guitar recording" just about all results give advice to -on everything from compression settings to mic choice- get the guitar to sit in an ensemble mix.. Unless you also type in "Doug Young." :up:

FrankHudson 01-22-2021 01:46 PM

[QUOTE=min7b5;6611632]
Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 6611493)

Of if you have one or two really soft good notes you can make them pop by bumping them up. :)
Using automation to say, just bring up just the tiny sliding sound between two notes, or maybe an unintended pinch harmonic, etc, in a track that is sparse is probably one of my favorite things in all of recording.

Yes, volume automation is one of the great things about modern DAWs. It's easy to zoom in down to to the note or even part of a note and change its volume or envelope. Easy to go down a rabbit hole there "re-pedaling" an entire performance, but gee it's nice when one's best performance still has one or two things that need a fix or there's an accidental note or dynamics effect that adds something.

I tend to use volume automation before compression on a lot of things. Certainly vocals. Sometimes guitar parts. MIDI parts are even more tempting as you change so much after performance. Sometimes with orchestral parts I feel like a very demanding conductor.

H165 01-22-2021 01:57 PM

This is such a great forum! It's this kind of hands-on information and discussion that improves the amateur's (me) chances of doing something well. I have begun tinkering with the automation stuff on Garage Band just to understand the benefits of it in solo track dynamics. I'd never really thought of it as controlling very small sections...very useful.

SprintBob 01-23-2021 12:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 6611589)
Yeah, that's why context is important. A Stones recording is a whole different thing than a solo fingerstyle guitar instrumental, like Bob is asking about. Typical fingerstyle guitar has more in common with classical recording. I say typical because there are some fingerstyle players who are more like bands where various "low-fi" or extra expansive techniques make sense, but I think what Bob's trying to achieve is what you hear from the majority of fingerstyle players these days - a somewhat accurate replication of a good sounding acoustic guitar, which is very different from rock bands who are trying to create new textures and sounds.

Doug is spot on. I’ve reached a point in my journey with the guitar where my playing is starting to sound musical to others and myself. As I put in the time and effort (and joy) to learn new songs, I want to put down a good recording of it to keep for myself and to share with others before I move on. The solo fingerstylist does have the advantage that our recording work flow can be relatively simple if you have decent talent, a great guitar to work with, and a modest investment in hardware and software. I feel very privileged to receive advice from players like Doug, Wrighty, TBman, KevWind, Rick-Slo, and many others to get to a point where I am having some success and consistency in my recording efforts. This is such a great community to be a part of, I hope I can give back as much as I have received.

SprintBob 01-23-2021 12:34 AM

[QUOTE=min7b5;6611632]
Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 6611493)

Of if you have one or two really soft good notes you can make them pop by bumping them up. :)
Using automation to say, just bring up just the tiny sliding sound between two notes, or maybe an unintended pinch harmonic, etc, in a track that is sparse is probably one of my favorite things in all of recording.

I need to figure how to do this on Reaper. I have plenty of takes where I have a few high or low notes that I would like to “treat” but instead I trash the recording and try again. That can be time consuming (and tiring at times).

rick-slo 01-23-2021 07:59 AM

[QUOTE=SprintBob;6612191]
Quote:

Originally Posted by min7b5 (Post 6611632)

I need to figure how to do this on Reaper. I have plenty of takes where I have a few high or low notes that I would like to “treat” but instead I trash the recording and try again. That can be time consuming (and tiring at times).

Regarding using a volume envelope you need to be aware that when you increase or decrease the volume of a particular note at a
particular time in the recording you will be doing the same with the other notes that were already ringing out on the guitar (even
true with a equalizer envelope due to all the overtones going on). Probably more noticeable (going on for a longer time) when using
a reverb. Listen carefully to tell whether that becomes an issue.


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