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  #31  
Old 12-09-2011, 07:51 PM
j3ffr0 j3ffr0 is offline
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I agree 100% with room treatment. I didn't know what a difference they could make until I started playing with them, and I'm still not done.

I recommend checking out http://www.gikacoustics.com/ if you don't want to do DIY. These guys can do it way cheaper and better than I can when considering what an hour of my time is worth to me. I've researched it a fair bit, and for me these represent the best value. GIK will also offer free advice on exactly what your room needs if you give them the specs. They have a great reputation over on gearslutz.com.
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  #32  
Old 12-10-2011, 09:31 AM
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Redavide, are you still with us? I finally had a chance to dig into your file, but I'd like to understand the stereo/mono issue before making any suggestions.
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  #33  
Old 12-10-2011, 07:22 PM
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Redavide is out of town, but answered my question, so I'll post my suggestions and comments. Redavide sent me the original wav file, un-EQd and with no reverb to work with, which was very useful.

First of all, this is a nice track, nice tune, well played. I like it, especially the intro, but there's a cool vibe to the strumming sections too. Having something worth recording is 90% of the challenge!

I think Sdelsolray gave a very nice roadmap of how to spend your budget on upgrades. Hard to beat that advice. But at the same time, there are lots of things here you can do to improve the sound with what you have now, and some things that "better" gear won't help with.

So, focusing on how to get a better sound with what you have now:

1) This is the big one. The file is pretty seriously clipped, so it would be a big improvement to reduce your levels. This is where some of the harshness is coming from. Your peaks when recording should probably be about -6db. With 24 bit recording, you don't need to try to use every bit of headroom, it will sound better and you will avoid very nasty sounding digital distortion by making sure you leave plenty of space.

2) This was recorded in mono. Since you like a lot of reverb, I assume you're shooting for a spacious sound. You can get that far more easily with 2 mics. Using a pair of mics also allows a lot more flexibility in mic placement. With 1 mic, you have to find exactly the right spot. With two, they work together, so if one mic is boomy, you can move it to reduce the boom without losing the positive contributions of the other mic. Having a more spacious initial sound will allow you to use less reverb and still sound spacious, which would help since the sound of the reverb you're using doesn't seem particularly flattering.

3) There are some boomy notes, around 100-160Hz, probably due to mic placement, being too close, as well as possibly the acoustics of the room. I'd try, again, using 2 mics, and experimenting with mic placement to avoid this. I'd also try different locations in your room. If the booming notes is caused by room modes and poor acoustics, even moving a few inches can change things.

4) Noise. Your noise level isn't as bad as I initially thought from the soundclick file. You seem to have a noise floor of about -45db, which is horrible by pro studio standards, but not that different than many home environments. It actually struck me as worse than it is because it seems louder on the tail, leaving me with the impression of noise. Might have been a truck going by at that point or something. It happens. If you know how to punch in or edit, it's not uncommon to have to fix little things like that. Wait for the plane or car to go by, and just play the last chord again. Another thing you can do to improve your tracks in general is to leave some quiet space before and after the recording. Besides the ambient noise, we hear you rustling around. Take a second of absolute no motion before you start, and hold your breath and don't move far longer than you think at the end. Oh, by the way, if you reduce your recording levels, your apparent noise floor will drop as well.

5) This isn't a recording thing, but your guitar is buzzing a lot, especially in the louder strumming parts. That may be what you want, part of your sound, in which case, strictly from a recording standpoint, the recording captured it perfectly! But it contributes, along with the distortion from recording too hot, to a somewhat harsh sound at times.

So, to recap, I'd just try to record again, at the quietest time of day you can, with two mics and watch your levels. You should be able to get a very decent recording. I actually suspect that what some people are attributing to your preamp is just a combination of distortion from overdriving, the mono recording, a not entirely pleasant reverb sound, and your room acoustics.

I'll follow this up with my attempt to work around these issues with a mix and tell you what I did.
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Last edited by Doug Young; 12-10-2011 at 09:48 PM.
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  #34  
Old 12-10-2011, 09:26 PM
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Part 2 :-)

Here's what I did with the raw file as far as mixing it. This goes with my earlier comment about production tools, and there're a lot more toys here to spend your $2K (or much more) on as well.

No guarantee this is better than what you did, and I won't be offended if you don't like it, its just what I would do with this, keeping in mind your preference for reverb! Here's my mix:

http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/mp3/redavide_mix.mp3

What'd I do?

1) Used Izotope RX to try to declip the file. You can't really completely repair digital clipping, but RX tries, and does a pretty good job of guessing what should have been there. I also used RX to do a little noise reduction on the tail, where it was most noticeable.

2) Loaded the cleaned up file into Logic, and trimmed the head off to where the music starts, and trimmed noise off the tail, fading it out slightly to try to make the remaining noise less noticeable on the end.

3) Raised the level of the intro by a few db, just because it was my favorite part :-)

4) Used a TC Electronic Powercore plugin called Dynamic EQ to tame some of the boomy bass notes. This gizmo is basically a multiband compressor sidechained to an EQ, so that I can EQ specific frequencies when they exceed some threshold, but leave them untouched the rest of the time.

4. Used Logic's Stereo plugin to simulate a stereo effect. This basically works by EQing each side in a complementary way, so that the overall signal is the same if summed to mono, but one side has less of some frequency, while the other has more, and so on. It works pretty well, tho 2 actual mics in stereo would be better.

5. Added a bit of room reverb with a Lexicon Native plugin. I find this reverb works nice for masking bad acoustics somewhat. It adds its own room sound, which kind of blends with and smoothes out the actual room sound, if there is one.

6. Added a longer more dramatic reverb with a UAD plugin, the EMT-250 plate emulator. This is a really lively-sounding reverb that seemed right for this track. I used some predelay to create a sort of audible bounce to when the reverb comes in.

7. Used Izotope Ozone, a mastering plugin, to add a bit of compression, some maximizer-style limiting, some overall EQ, and a little more stereo enhancement, plus bring the final level up close to the max.

And that's it. There's still some harshness there, especially in the hard strumming parts where it was badly clipped, that I wish I could get rid of, but the track seems enjoyable to me, in spite of that. At least perhaps it will suggest some ideas.
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Last edited by Doug Young; 12-10-2011 at 09:45 PM.
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  #35  
Old 12-10-2011, 10:39 PM
alohachris alohachris is offline
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Aloha Doug,

What a difference - in everything about that new mix. I just A/B'ed yours & Redavide's original mix several times (through Adam A7X near-field's, Daedalus 803 mid-field's & AKG Studio 240 headphones). Like night & day! It's like Sound on Sound comes to AGF. You know, like when they go to a guy's studio & clean up the studio AND the guys mixes?!?

How generous of you. It must have taken some time to use the tools you did to open & clean up Redavide's original mix to allow the music to shine through as well as it does.

The improved dual mono, stereo simulated track did reveal a trebly harsh edge while strumming on his guitar (needs some warmth), the buzzes (indoor heating shrinks those fretboards this time of year), the untreated room plus a tad of noise & uneveness at the end on the timing that was difficult to really hear in the original mono. The UAD reverb is a huge improvement.

But you really made that piece shine, Doug. It's so opened up now. That ease & openness of space is the toughest thing for home recordists to achieve consistently. All of your music has that quality. But you made it happen for Redavide & I'm sure he didn't have a CMC641 on it.

You embody a rare combination of qualities, my friend: technical mastery of complex audio gear & techniques, great musicality & taste, very discerning "engineer's" ears, fantastic & creative composing & playing, all in one very generous & patient soul. Throw in some great communication & writing to boot. Wow! I learn so much from your posts, Doug.

It will be fun to hear Redavide's reaction from Milano. He'll love your improvements! Nearly as important, it will help him spend his money more wisely at this point of his development. His $2K could go up in smoke quickly with the wrong choices. Your blueprint sends him down a smarter path. (Ya Need that room treatment though, Redavide. I'd also ask Sdelsolray for suggestions as to how to best spend that money on gear. He set me up very well on my live rig).

And thanks for listing the "how to do it" part of the editing equation. There is so much about Logic Pro that I need to did deeper into - especially the editing part.

I'm getting the tracking, basic editing & plug-in's down now, at least in a rudimentary workflow. But using the additional tools you revealed in revamping Redavide's piece opened some doors for me, brah. I know this takes some time from your day. But you know how much we do appreciate your experience & information. Mahalo for sharing it so freely.

All the best to you on a very cool December night here in the Islands - with thunder & lightning?!? Unheard of here.

Mahalo a nui,

alohachris

PS: Don't forget to compile all of these "in the studio," step-by-step, 'how-to' pieces for a future compilation journal for sale. " Home DAW Recording for Acoustic Guitar Players," or something like that. I'll buy it!-alohachris-

Last edited by alohachris; 12-10-2011 at 11:10 PM.
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  #36  
Old 12-11-2011, 01:39 AM
redavide redavide is offline
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Can't listen until tonight when I return, but want to thank you for your invaluable time and effort. Can't overstate how helpful you've been and how much I appreciate the help. More tonight - can't wait to hear it. . .
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  #37  
Old 12-11-2011, 07:54 AM
pshambroom pshambroom is offline
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The generosity and wisdom of this group almost brings tears to my eyes. Best thread ever.
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  #38  
Old 12-11-2011, 08:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
That's one problem with using these various places that mess with your sound. I've also had the opposite happen, I've had tracks with seemingly little reverb on them suddenly sound like they're swimming in it after
.
I have also noticed a simular problem with both MySpace and Sound Cloud to a lesser degree. On one of my uploaded songs in particular some of the gutar section have a fluctuating sound not present in the WAV. I can can only conclude that when they compress the WAV in this song something goes haywire.
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  #39  
Old 12-11-2011, 04:41 PM
redavide redavide is offline
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I just A/B'd Doug's re-worked version of my track with the original. Amazing improvement. The clarity and definition of Doug's is striking when compared to the muddiness of the original. And this taking into consideration the limitations Doug had in having to work with my mono, clipped track. I can only imagine what he would have done with a clean, stereo track . . .

So, hat's off to Doug for going above and beyond what I could have reasonably expected when I started this thread -- and thanks to everyone else for the valuable input.

At this point, I think I'll limit my purchases to materials for building sound panels and then try to build a proficiency at recording with my existing set-up by experimenting with the 2 mics I have (I only recently acquired my 2nd mic) for full stereo tracks; focusing on mic placement; recording at proper levels; improving reverb and EQing and mixing better.

As for the reverb, I've been using an outboard Lexicon PCM70 which is a little old but still sounds fairly decent. The only way I've been able to use it in my set-up is by taking an original dry guitar track and re-feeding it into the PCM70 and recording a 100% wet track, then mixing a little of it in with the dry track. After reading Doug's comments on the less-than-stellar quality of my mono track, it occurred to me that I've basically been doubling my errors by re-recording my clipped track for a reverb track and then mixing 2 clipped tracks together! If I use this technique with a good, clean, stereo dry track, I'm predicting the reverb will sound much, much better.

Anyway, thank you all again for all the help -- especially to Doug Young for his time and expertise. I never would have imagined getting this much valuable input when I innocently asked for some opinions about upgrades a couple of days ago. The direction this thread took really woke me up and opened my eyes to some very fundamental and valuable ideas.
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Last edited by redavide; 12-11-2011 at 04:42 PM. Reason: addition
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  #40  
Old 12-11-2011, 07:46 PM
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I do like to use outboard FX. When I'm just playing around with an idea it's a lot easier if I can dial something in quickly. I'll often replace it with a plug-in later - my old reverb unit is a bit noisy - but it's an important part of the workflow. If you're looking for more than two channels in an interface, RME UC (has pres) or Multiface (hasn't) would be good choices. You can pick up the older model Multiface I on ebay for peanuts, incidentally. I've got a Multiface myself and it's surprising how fast you find a use for all the I/O: mics, old synth, FX send and return, optical out to an old mini disk player, SPDIF to an old computer on sampler duty...

Quote:
Originally Posted by redavide View Post
At this point, I think I'll limit my purchases to materials for building sound panels and then try to build a proficiency at recording with my existing set-up
I wonder... many windows are set in a recess in the wall. If you could build something with acoustic panels which jams in to the space with an airtight fit, completely covering the window, that should blot out a lot of noise from outside. And air, unfortunately...

I still think that's nowhere close to a good acoustic guitar sound, and that hardware is a big part of the problem. Don't bang your head against a brick wall for too long though. It is solvable. I'm pretty sure I can hear a really nice guitar in there, somewhere, waiting to get out.
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  #41  
Old 12-11-2011, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moon View Post
I still think that's nowhere close to a good acoustic guitar sound, and that hardware is a big part of the problem.
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't presenting my mix as an example of an ideal guitar sound. This was more of a forensic analysis coupled with "what can we do to sort of patch it up?", and to suggest some ideas. I hoped the opened up mix would provide a glimpse of the benefits of a true stereo recording, for example, not to suggest that simulated stereo was a way to get a great guitar sound. And ideally, you don't do noise reduction, or clipping repair, etc...

I'm a big fan of good gear, to my wife's constant horror, but the best gear won't help if you're not using it correctly, and the more you learn about what you're doing with whatever you have, the better understanding you'll have and the better choices you'll be able to make when it comes to choosing gear. You don't just turn on better gear and instantly get a great sound, you still have to deal with room acoustics, mic placement, proper levels, etc, etc. Plenty of people use modest gear and get good sounds, and there are also people with great gear that still get lousy sounds.
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  #42  
Old 12-12-2011, 09:46 AM
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Agreed

.
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  #43  
Old 12-12-2011, 10:38 AM
redavide redavide is offline
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Agreed here also. It seems to me that what Doug said makes very good sense. You can also find an excellent statement of similar thinking at Fran Guidry's home-brewed music site.

Moon, I don't plan on "banging my head on a brick wall" by sticking with the modest equipment I've got -- instead, I'd like to get it to its full potential by using it correctly -- something that I'm sure I'm not doing at this point -- a conclusion reached in large part because of this thread. When I feel like I'm getting the best I can get out of it, I'll consider upgrading if necessary.
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Last edited by redavide; 12-12-2011 at 10:40 AM. Reason: correction
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