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Old 09-29-2019, 12:38 PM
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BoneDigger BoneDigger is online now
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Default Understanding and achieving airiness in a music mix

I know I have been asking a lot of questions lately and I appreciate the replies!

My reference tracks (professional recordings) tend to have an airiness to them that my recordings do not. I think this has a lot to do with stereo width, recording quality, and EQ, but I just can't seem to get that airy feeling to them. I have been working with some compression, plus using some good VST plugins for EQ and panning, but still just can't get there.

Ideas?
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Old 09-29-2019, 01:53 PM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
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What are you recording (guitar solo, voice and guitar, band with bass, drums guitar, keyboard, etc.)?

Does your DAW come with a match EQ (like FabFilter Pro Q or iZotope Ozone EQ)? Here's a link that compares the aforementioned and explains how to use them.
https://www.sageaudio.com/blog/mixin...q-matching.php

A general guideline I try to follow is separating different sources in the stereo field. For example, if your recording guitar and voice try keeping the vocal tracks in the middle and hard pan the guitar(s) left and right.
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Old 09-29-2019, 01:59 PM
rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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Originally Posted by BoneDigger View Post
I know I have been asking a lot of questions lately and I appreciate the replies!

My reference tracks (professional recordings) tend to have an airiness to them that my recordings do not. I think this has a lot to do with stereo width, recording quality, and EQ, but I just can't seem to get that airy feeling to them. I have been working with some compression, plus using some good VST plugins for EQ and panning, but still just can't get there.

Ideas?
Post an example to a professional recording and to one of your recordings.
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Old 09-29-2019, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Trevor B. View Post
What are you recording (guitar solo, voice and guitar, band with bass, drums guitar, keyboard, etc.)?

Does your DAW come with a match EQ (like FabFilter Pro Q or iZotope Ozone EQ)? Here's a link that compares the aforementioned and explains how to use them.
https://www.sageaudio.com/blog/mixin...q-matching.php

A general guideline I try to follow is separating different sources in the stereo field. For example, if your recording guitar and voice try keeping the vocal tracks in the middle and hard pan the guitar(s) left and right.
Most of my recording is with either just a guitar and vocals, or in some instances guitar, vocals, drums, and bass, perhaps with an electric or acoustic lead thrown in. This is not a band situation and I record each part myself and overlay them.
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Old 09-29-2019, 02:44 PM
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Boy that is a great question and one that arguably has no simple easy answer.

And I just spent some time on your web site and your recordings are really pretty good , and certainly you have the basics very well covered (more on that later)

First perhaps just to make sure we are all on the same page the term "airiness" can mean different things, to some it means high frequency focus almost hiss but not ?? ( ya Kev like that makes a lick sense )

To some it means air or space , perhaps more of a 3D feel , around the individual elements in the mix, which in turn can help the entire mix feel more 3D (for lack of a better term)

To some if means presence ( a more intimate right there in the room feeling also 3D ness ) particularly on vocals and sometimes guitar as well .

And yes some of these things can be achieved with judicious use of EQ and or compression ( often there in the mix but not noticeable until bypassed)

But in truth it can also be said that everything in the recording chain from player to instruments , to room, to mics, to pres, to AD conversion, can play a role

With all that wordy preamble here are some basic thoughts .

If you are referring to more presence , intimacy, right there in the room, and say more of 3 D feeling.
As far as EQ :
The one place to start to think about ,,,, is mud/distortion and build up of competing frequencies Particularly in multi instrument recording (i.e. anything that distracts or detracts, from clarity) and the rule of thumb for that is, get rid of mud first.

The best / first way, to have the individual elements become more detailed, distinguishable, and "present" as far as any EQ, ( And even though it may sound counterintuitive), is to first take away what you don't want to hear (as opposed to the usual tendency to add to what you do want to hear) Or in other terms "subtractive EQ" first before (if any) additive EQ is applied.

Also in multi instrument mixes do not try to have have everything front and center or forward in the mix all at the same time, or even at all sometimes . It is not only "OK" but often actually creates more 3D from front to back space and air, to intentionally have some elements further back in the sound all the time or at different times.

If you don't mind my asking what Vocal mic are you using?
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Old 09-29-2019, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Boy that is a great question and one that arguably has no simple easy answer.

And I just spent some time on your web site and your recordings are really pretty good , and certainly you have the basics very well covered (more on that later)

First perhaps just to make sure we are all on the same page the term "airiness" can mean different things, to some it means high frequency focus almost hiss but not ?? ( ya Kev like that makes a lick sense )

To some it means air or space , perhaps more of a 3D feel , around the individual elements in the mix, which in turn can help the entire mix feel more 3D (for lack of a better term)

To some if means presence ( a more intimate right there in the room feeling also 3D ness ) particularly on vocals and sometimes guitar as well .

And yes some of these things can be achieved with judicious use of EQ and or compression ( often there in the mix but not noticeable until bypassed)

But in truth it can also be said that everything in the recording chain from player to instruments , to room, to mics, to pres, to AD conversion, can play a role

With all that wordy preamble here are some basic thoughts .

If you are referring to more presence , intimacy, right there in the room, and say more of 3 D feeling.
As far as EQ :
The one place to start to think about ,,,, is mud/distortion and build up of competing frequencies Particularly in multi instrument recording (i.e. anything that distracts or detracts, from clarity) and the rule of thumb for that is, get rid of mud first.

The best / first way, to have the individual elements become more detailed, distinguishable, and "present" as far as any EQ, ( And even though it may sound counterintuitive), is to first take away what you don't want to hear (as opposed to the usual tendency to add to what you do want to hear) Or in other terms "subtractive EQ" first before (if any) additive EQ is applied.

Also in multi instrument mixes do not try to have have everything front and center or forward in the mix all at the same time, or even at all sometimes . It is not only "OK" but often actually creates more 3D from front to back space and air, to intentionally have some elements further back in the sound all the time or at different times.

If you don't mind my asking what Vocal mic are you using?
Thanks for the great explanation. It is indeed hard to define the term. To me, my recordings come off a bit sterile. Some of that is in my playing and singing, and some of it is undoubtedly in the mics. As for mics, I am currently using an Aston Spirit LD mic for vocals and a Shure SM 81 SD mic for guitar. I also own a Shure SM7B that I will use on occasion for vocals, but mostly the Aston recently.
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Old 09-29-2019, 05:10 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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What are you using as reference tracks?
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Old 09-29-2019, 06:33 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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I really like your songs, your voice... your whole musical direction. I'd pay money to come hear you play.

And this may or may not have any bearing on the "airiness" issue, but having listened to maybe of 5 or 6 of your songs, you have a pronounced midrange honk in your recording space, around 1K or maybe a little higher. It's not that big a deal in the guitar recordings, but it's very evident in the vocals. It might be coming from a hard wall behind you when you sing, or a hard ceiling... tough to say. But it's not something that can be EQ'ed out, because it's a "node" situation -- the energy in that frequency range is taking longer to decay than the frequencies above and below.

I don't know what treatment you've already done to your room. But I'd either do a lot more general deadening, or rearrange what you've got to make a thick, absorbent area behind you when you sing. And above as well if you can manage it.
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Old 09-30-2019, 07:04 AM
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I agree with Brent Hahn about your music and its direction; it's very good! After listening to a number of the tracks on your site I agree with Brent that there is some mid-range emphasis that may be causing your recordings to be less clear. By EQing some of that out you might find some of the "air" that you're seeking.

I also think it might be worth trying some stereo spread on your vocal. In your stereo soundstage, I feel as if your voice is emanating from a very well defined narrow point in the mix. Making your vocal slightly more broad and diffuse would likely add some "air". In a previous thread, I posted that Izotope has its Ozone 8 Elements plugin available for free. Part of what that plugin can do is give some spread to individual tracks. Using it for your vocal track (and perhaps selectively some of your instrument tracks- acoustic guitar especially) might open up your mixes to achieve the sound you're looking for. In the image below the controls for "width" and "stereoize" would be things to try to accomplish that type of effect.

I wish you well in your quest for perfecting your recordings, your music is worth the effort!

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Old 09-30-2019, 07:28 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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To add something to what Brent suggested above (treatment on the wall behind you) - what are you facing when recording vocals? Are you projecting out into a room (walls a distance away)?
Because I don't have a big room, I do vocals facing into a corner treated with bass traps (a few feet away) - this stops the initial direct reflections bouncing back into the room. There are also traps on the wall behind me, of course.
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Old 10-01-2019, 03:33 PM
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To add something to what Brent suggested above (treatment on the wall behind you) - what are you facing when recording vocals? Are you projecting out into a room (walls a distance away)?
Because I don't have a big room, I do vocals facing into a corner treated with bass traps (a few feet away) - this stops the initial direct reflections bouncing back into the room. There are also traps on the wall behind me, of course.
I am going to post a thread about my recording space to get recommendations.

Thank you to everyone who has posted and thank you for the compliments on my music!
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Old 10-02-2019, 03:36 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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What I have noticed about really good recordings is that there is open space, I think created by each part being very carefully played with no more notes than necessary. Musical clutter fills the sound spaces and essentially creates confusion that works against musical clarity.

The same is true of judicious use of equalization to make sure that each part minimizes the stepping on any of the other parts' sound spectrum.

I find that it's really hard work to come up with this combination, especially the playing part because I have spent the majority of my life as a solo singer-songwriting kind of performer. So in my normal playing, I don't have to worry about stepping on any other parts or frequencies. But in recording, if anything else besides a guitar and voice are recorded, then the competition for musical space starts.

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Old 10-03-2019, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoneDigger View Post
I know I have been asking a lot of questions lately and I appreciate the replies!

My reference tracks (professional recordings) tend to have an airiness to them that my recordings do not. I think this has a lot to do with stereo width, recording quality, and EQ, but I just can't seem to get that airy feeling to them. I have been working with some compression, plus using some good VST plugins for EQ and panning, but still just can't get there.

Ideas?
Over the years, as I have upgraded my recording equipment, I've discovered these things:

- mic placement is a big deal.

- the quality of the interface- the converters and preamps has a lot to do with spaciousness and depth

- the quietness of the room and it being treated properly has a lot to do with it.

The pros use expensive equipment for a reason.

And then there's how the song is arranged which is maybe the biggest factor.

It's a lot of little subtle things that add up to a huge difference between what we do and the recordings we admire.
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:55 PM
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Great equipment, brilliant recording technique and fine EQ balance can be important, but to me it's all about the performance -- not necessarily perfect technical performance. A great-feeling, intimate performance can be be inspiring and a joy to listen to even if recorded on a cassette tape machine from the '70s.
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:22 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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Great equipment, brilliant recording technique and fine EQ balance can be important, but to me it's all about the performance -- not necessarily perfect technical performance. A great-feeling, intimate performance can be be inspiring and a joy to listen to even if recorded on a cassette tape machine from the '70s.
A bad mix engineer can make a great performance sound awful. There's really no single thing that makes a great recording. Transversely, there can be a single thing that makes a recording bad.
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