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  #31  
Old 01-08-2012, 09:47 AM
redavide redavide is offline
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Doug, very interesting and helpful video . . . After I watched it, that little melody of your tune was stuck in my head all day long . . .

Regarding mastering -- I realize you sent it out to a mastering guru, but is there anything a regular mortal can do in the way of mastering? In particular, how can one go about getting more volume on a fully mixed track?
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  #32  
Old 01-08-2012, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redavide View Post
Regarding mastering -- I realize you sent it out to a mastering guru, but is there anything a regular mortal can do in the way of mastering? In particular, how can one go about getting more volume on a fully mixed track?
For starters, I'd suggest reading Bob Katz's book, "Mastering Audio". Its about more than mastering, and isn't light reading, but it's full of good stuff.

The basics of getting it louder, are just to increase the gain, usually with a bit of compression. Doing that without wrecking the sound, especially on a solo guitar part, is part of the challenge. But I actually wouldn't send my tracks out just to make them louder, I can easily just turn up the levels myself. The reason for having someone master is to have a different set of ears do the final tweaks (if any), like having your car detailed, or having a software package sent thru the QA and packaging departments.

For do-it-yourselfers, there are "mastering" plugins like Izotope Ozone that put the basic tools of mastering all in an easy-to-use package, with presets. Ozone seems to be a reasonably good quality tool, but you can also easy wreck your sound with it. The mastering process is more about listening and doing what's needed than any tool.
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  #33  
Old 01-08-2012, 11:00 AM
redavide redavide is offline
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. . .

The basics of getting it louder, are just to increase the gain, usually with a bit of compression.

. . .
I have compression and limiter plug-ins . . . Could you be a little more specific in how these might be applied in relation to increasing gain of the final mix? The object I have in mind is to get the final mix louder without distorting or clipping it . . . Thanks.
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  #34  
Old 01-08-2012, 11:24 AM
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What plugins do you have? The easiest way (not necessarily the best) to avoid clipping is a brick wall limiter. Put it on the master bus, set it to 0db, or maybe -0.1 and push up the levels with the gain sliders. The final output should never clip.

BUT, this won't necessarily sound good. If you read Bob Katz, you'll get an earful about "volume wars" and why louder isn't better. And if you read around, you'll see lots of comments about brick wall limiters being evil. Depends on how you use them.

For solo guitar you want *very* little compression, maybe none. It'll be pretty obvious if you use more than the tiniest amount of compression on fingerstyle guitar.

Getting your track to release levels can be as simple as pushing up the volume until your loudest peak hits 0db. If you have issues like a single very loud peak (squeak, percussive hit, etc), you might need to tame that. You can do that automatically with compression or limiting, with the threshold set so that it only triggers on that peak, or you do it manually by editing the volume on the spot (depends on what capabilities your editing system has). But if you have a nice smooth track with fairly consistent levels, I'd just put a compressor or limiter across the master, with the goal of basically never seeing it trigger. It's just a safety valve to make sure 1 or 2 stray peaks don't go past 0. Then raise the volume with your sliders. You need some monitoring, so you can see what's going on. In my video, you can see the UAD Precision Limiter on the bus (turned off!) because it has nice meters that let me see the levels. Most will show "overs", and you want zero of those.

If you have a track you're trying to work with, feel free to send it to me. I can be more specific, see if I can "master" it (at an amateur level), and tell you exactly what I did and/or what problems I ran into.
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  #35  
Old 01-08-2012, 12:03 PM
redavide redavide is offline
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Quote:
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What plugins do you have?

. . .

If you have a track you're trying to work with, feel free to send it to me. I can be more specific, see if I can "master" it (at an amateur level), and tell you exactly what I did and/or what problems I ran into.
I have the Steinberg plug-ins that were included with Cubase.

I have a track I recorded recently after you and others gave me a lot of good advice in an earlier thread. I experimented with a lot of that advice (stereo mics, lower recording levels, sound-absorbing panels, etc.) and I think my recording improved a bit . . . But one thing (among others) that I would like to do is get a higher volume level on the final track. I had been thinking about that anyway and then I saw your video and noticed how the volume was much stronger after your tune was mastered -- and it sounded very good. That got me really thinking about it . . .

Anyway, I do have this track that I mentioned . . . If you could take a crack at some kind of mastering, that would be great. I'll try to send you the wav. file to the same place as before. Thanks very much.
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  #36  
Old 01-08-2012, 12:25 PM
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I could have gone for more volume right from the beginning, but it's better to leave some headroom. With 24 bits, there's plenty to work with, and staying lower ensures I won't spend a lot of time tracking only to discover I was clipping. It also leaves room to work with the track - if you end up wanting to add 3db of some EQ, you need that headroom to work with.

I'll watch for your track,
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  #37  
Old 01-08-2012, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
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I could have gone for more volume right from the beginning, but it's better to leave some headroom.

I'll watch for your track,
I agree, in the days of reel-to-reel, we tried to push the limit to avoid as much tape noise as possible, but when you try to push volume in the digital domain, it is likely that at some point you are going to hit digital distortion and there is almost no way to fix it. I've ruined some otherwise really good live recordings.
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  #38  
Old 01-09-2012, 08:27 AM
flagstaffcharli flagstaffcharli is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
For solo guitar you want *very* little compression, maybe none. It'll be pretty obvious if you use more than the tiniest amount of compression on fingerstyle guitar.

I'm starting to wonder if any compression on anything is really desirable during tracking with 24 bit. I assumed it would be necessary with percussion because of the transients, but the guy I work with was very happy to record without compression and he got some beautiful tones. There's a lot of room there in terms of volume now. I never use compression on my vocals because it's unnecessary. In fact, I got rid of my RNC units because after two years I had never used them.

...unless you're using the compression as a deliberate effect like on an electric guitar cabinet. But even then you would put the compression right in the guitar's signal chain where the player has some control over it, as opposed to putting it in the chain after the mic.

I'm NOT saying this as an expert. (I generally don't say anything here in the "record" forum as an expert.) I'm just wondering aloud. Why would someone use compression on the way in with all the headroom available these days? I'd suppose there are appropriate times - probably in live situations - but in the recording I'm doing (mosty singer/songwriter stuff) it just seems better to turn things down a bit on the way in.
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  #39  
Old 01-09-2012, 12:18 PM
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I'm starting to wonder if any compression on anything is really desirable during tracking with 24 bit.
Never during tracking! With 24 bits, you can afford to do nothing to the tracking signal and make decisions later. Anything you do during tracking can't be undone.
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  #40  
Old 01-09-2012, 12:46 PM
Fran Guidry Fran Guidry is offline
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Bruce Swedien says compression is for kids.

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  #41  
Old 01-10-2012, 12:01 PM
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Really interesting and, of course, exceptionally well done...and it comes at a time when I've been getting down a bunch of new songs on my own low-end gear, for friends, family and co-players etc. I'm reminded, once again, that a qualified sound engineer is truly a valuable thing and, alas, that I am not one!

I don't expect you to do this, but it would be very interesting to have a comparison "lesson" in which you use grubbier gear, like a common low-end mic, (Rode NT1 etc), and lower end pre-amps and so on.

Because I'm at the point where I cannot distinguish between "engineering skill" and quality mics etc.

I've learned enough to know I'm unlikely to possess either and will, lord willin' and the creek don't rise, go into the studio for my next disc...but, still, soooo many variables in this game, and I'll always love dinking with my own tracks down in the basement...so I wish I could figure out the most effective means of improving my sound. Toward that end it'd be really worthwhile to hear what kinds of sounds qualified engineers can glean from cheap(er) gear.

Anyway, thanks as always for your incredibly intelligently and carefully crafted "lessons"; as with your pickup comparisons, these are some of the best things on the net...and I do mean "best" as in up there with Google and YouTube
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  #42  
Old 01-10-2012, 02:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdrake View Post
it would be very interesting to have a comparison "lesson" in which you use grubbier gear, like a common low-end mic, (Rode NT1 etc), and lower end pre-amps and so on.
Good idea, let me see what I can come up with.
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  #43  
Old 01-11-2012, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by tdrake View Post
I don't expect you to do this, but it would be very interesting to have a comparison "lesson" in which you use grubbier gear,
OK, I didn't do a full blown video lesson, but I quickly recorded a short clip tonight with really cheap gear. Setup was a Zoom Hn4 ($299), with external mics, Audio Technica AT2020 (I paid $59 each), and Reaper ($60). I recorded in my living room, with no room treatment whatsoever, so no cost there. I did pretty much the same steps here, except that the track isn't sent out to mastering, I just raised the level to peak at near 0 db. I used only included Reaper plugins, a very slight compression, a little high end boost and extreme low end cut and little mid boost to warm it up, and added reverb.

I don't find the result to be as good as I'd really want, but I literally just setup a pair of mics in the living room approximately where I'd place them, fighting my cat over control of the cords, and hit record. So the track could use some work on mic placement. Also, I don't really know Reaper, and the plugins, especially the reverb didn't knock me out, so I could do better with tools I know. One reasonable option is to record at home with inexpensive gear and then send it to someone with a better setup for mixing.

But anyway, for better or worse, here's the results of the comparable process, minus the professional mastering, with less than $500 worth of gear total, not counting the computer, mic stands and mic cords, and of course my monitoring system.

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

here's some photos

The setup:



Reaper effects settings (not all that interesting, and I claim no expertise at these particular plugins)





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Last edited by Doug Young; 01-11-2012 at 12:34 AM.
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  #44  
Old 01-11-2012, 12:41 AM
wcap wcap is offline
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This thread looks so very useful, but I have not had time to do anything more than skim it and have not watched the video. I'll be back when I have more time, and will probably have some questions.

Thanks so much though for all of this. I have a lot to learn.

One question at this point though regarding your comment:

"One reasonable option is to record at home with inexpensive gear and then send it to someone with a better setup for mixing."

Roughly, what does this sort of thing tend to cost? I'm sure it varies, but can you give me a ballpark estimate (or approximate range) based on your experience?
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  #45  
Old 01-11-2012, 12:49 AM
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Quote:
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"One reasonable option is to record at home with inexpensive gear and then send it to someone with a better setup for mixing."

Roughly, what does this sort of thing tend to cost? I'm sure it varies, but can you give me a ballpark estimate (or approximate range) based on your experience?
Depends on who you're hiring and what you're asking for. You can find studios (or engineers) that charge anywhere from $25 to $200 an hour, and mixing a simple acoustic guitar CD's worth of tracks might take a few hours, while a full band thing could take a long time. I imagine some people would quote by the hour, while others might charge by the track. The mastering projects I've paid for ran $400-500 for a full CD.

Someone like Bob Womack would be able to answer this more authoritatively.
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