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And you consider my reference to automated compression as "intelligent compression" freakish? And that it's mixing? Interesting.

 

I thought you were referring to fader rides as "intelligent compression." That's an interesting metaphor, but totally turns the concept of mixing on its head for me. If you were talking about automating compressor parameters, I totally agree with you.

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I just record myself and vocalist/instrumentalist friends that can do what I can't. I do everything so my biggest problem is not seeing the forest for the trees.

 

I've got way better at finding the right gear for me and my sweetie/vocalist. Not a ton on my wish list right now. But mixing is hard! Man, if I could get an outsider for anything it would be mixing. I'm too close to the project; forest/trees thang.

 

I feel good about tracking, I can fix minor mistakes, I can master (and by that I mean sequencing the songs for an album, making their apparent volume fit each other and that's about all I want). But I'd love to work with a good engineer who can mix, a drummer with amazing touch and understanding of tuning and how it affects recording and a good piano player. I can cover the rest vocal, guitar, bass, sax, percussion, synth etc wise...

 

I just need help on my weak points. If I had a budget, Nashburg is just two and a half hours down the road. I'd definitely import some guys.

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I suck at mixing
:cry:

And I suck at using compressors, I have failed so miserably that i have opted to try to learn how to use automation to "replace"the need of compressors, I have read everything in the web (well i am exaggerating a little bit here
:D
) but i cant understand compressors. Well I understand them, but i cant hear the subtle difference in order to make changes in the settings.


advices?

 

 

Here is how I really started to understand what compression was doing.

 

Solo a snare or kick or anything with a good transient. Have the attack set to as fast as possible. Medium release. Set the ratio to 4:1. Lower the threshold until you are compressing the signal at least 6-10 db. (The reason for this is at the beginning you are trying to understand compression, so there is nothing wrong with compressing a lot since you are trying to listen to what it's doing. After you can hear it at extreme levels, you will be able to hear it at subtle levels).

 

Then slow down the attack until you hear the transient come back to life. It should be dull with a super fast attack but you will DEFINITELY be able to hear it pop back to life when you slow down the attack. But make sure you do this part slowly. It should happen within 5-20 msec, depending on the sound. You can do the opposite too. Start with a slow attack and speed it up until you hear the transient dull out.

 

Doing that really helped me understand compression more. I understood what threshold and ratio did, but the attack and release times were so foreign to me until I could actual hear the sound change with the attack setting. At that point everything made sense.

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I'm weak in the hands, thanks to carpal-tunnel syndrome. :mad:

 

Drum sounds I'm definitely weak on, especially kick.

 

Also, getting a mix to translate. I do many many mixes and check on many different places before I give it up (I don't think I've ever been 'finished' with a mix, I just reach a point of diminishing returns.) Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot I can do at the moment to better myself with this, since I'm sure part of it is the room I mix in, and the monitors I mix on. But practice, that's free!

 

And mastering. I attempt a little mastering for what I post on the internet, but for albums I'm more than happy to pay someone to do it right. And I don't really mind too much that I'm not good at mastering, because I'm not really interested in it.

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Hmmm... you might want to put some work in to the ADAT-sequencer slaving thing. (OTOH, if you're simply playing the instrumetns in real time and recording them with no external MIDI, you're probably avoiding a passel of timing steadiness/latency issues.)


But one of the reasons I don't feel too bad about my old late 90s work was that the synths and drum module never went onto ADAT -- I synched the ADATs (via my BRC) to MTC (MIDI Time Clock) and folded them in at mixtime on my analog board. So mostly only vocals and guitars went onto ADAT. (Actually, the synths mostly didn't benefit all that noticeably -- but I always felt the drums from my 20 bit DM5 module sounded a lot fresher going straight into the mix.)


But on the OTHER other hand... putting them all on tape at the front means you don't have to panic if a module dies or you can't get your MIDI rig working right for some reason. (I would, on occasion, on very critical stuff, run each instrument onto its own ADAT track and put that cassette away for safe keeping.)

 

Thanks Blue! I'm planning to do a few songs both ways so I can compare. And maybe always have a tape backup as you mention. Going to tape, my sequencers, (Yamaha RS 7000, Yamaha rm1x, Yamaha Su 700, Roland XP80,) got to contend for the honored path thru my Aphex 1100 mic preamp. It would be nice not to have to favor one or the other.

 

Something is hanging it up. I might be able to put together the right questions. But I should take it to the KSS forum I suppose.

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Nothing takes the place of practicing, experience, and active listening.


The compressor is not only for dynamics but is also a wave-shaping tool. When I realized this, it really opened up the possibilities of compression for me. Maybe it will for you as well.


Using automation to take the place of a compressor is a wonderful thing. I do this all the time, and like to refer to it as "intelligent compression".

 

thanks ken...

 

I had realized that to some extent. For example i am good at using the compressor to give the bass, or drums more punch. But when i try to use the compressor with something else I end up screwing it. :)

 

I called it "controlled compression". And I think it is not the same than just mixing, because this kind of automation is to make the track more cohesive and to take out exaggerated peaks, then i use another stage of automation to make the track sit in the mix.

 

:wave:

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Lower the threshold so you can really hear the effect of each control.
Really
lower it. Work the controls so you kind of dig what's happening to the signal. Now, raise the threshold back to zero and slowly lower it into the signal. Go easy and it should sound great.


Think of it the way you crank gain on an eq band to hear your sweep, then you find it and lower the gain back. Same deal.

 

I do that with the EQ all the time... thanks for the advice ill try it. :thu:

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Here is how I really started to understand what compression was doing.


Solo a snare or kick or anything with a good transient. Have the attack set to as fast as possible. Medium release. Set the ratio to 4:1. Lower the threshold until you are compressing the signal at least 6-10 db. (The reason for this is at the beginning you are trying to understand compression, so there is nothing wrong with compressing a lot since you are trying to listen to what it's doing. After you can hear it at extreme levels, you will be able to hear it at subtle levels).


Then slow down the attack until you hear the transient come back to life. It should be dull with a super fast attack but you will DEFINITELY be able to hear it pop back to life when you slow down the attack. But make sure you do this part slowly. It should happen within 5-20 msec, depending on the sound. You can do the opposite too. Start with a slow attack and speed it up until you hear the transient dull out.


Doing that really helped me understand compression more. I understood what threshold and ratio did, but the attack and release times were so foreign to me until I could actual hear the sound change with the attack setting. At that point everything made sense.

 

or just use LA2as!!!! :eek::thu:

 

Glenn

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Being a little too aggressive with the payment/time side of the studio. Probably too ruthless with the clock--and payments due at the end of each days tracking...Or maybe that how we stayed in business for 20+ years;)

 

One of the best engineer/studio owners I worked with asked for payment at the end of every session (at least with us :D ).

 

I'd say he was more firm than ruthless with regard to the clock.

 

If the band kept him waiting (arriving late, being unprepared), they had to pay. That said, he often cut a "discount" at the end of the session for any of a number of reasons... sometimes it was just because we'd all spent ten or fifteen minutes joking around and talking... so I'd say the band's banker seemed to feel that the studio was firm but fair.

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I'm not a very pushy person, so trying to push the talent on to greater and greater heights is not something I do really well.

 

This is something I think I can do. This also relates to the later post about "how do you know the limits of the talent you are working with?" I've been on the other side of the coin too, where a producer has had to push me to do my best.

 

Relating to somebody you are producing or recording is not about being pushy, or even about your personality. It's about relating to a person at some (any) level. "Push" is the common term for getting the most out of a performer, but it's really more to inspire.

 

It's about finding the right language to communicate with each individual. Some people can relate to more technical stuff like "that was very tight rhythmically, try playing a little looser against the groove". Other people need artsy/flowery stuff like "That was very rigid, try to go with the flow", or "that was like a rock, try to be more wispy".

 

One person asked me to make the sound more "green" :freak: , but after a little more discussion, I was able to access what "green" meant in terms I could relate to.

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Working in a one room setup for way too long. Yeah...I know somebody said somewhere that [insert famous producer / engineer here] prefers it but it's damn near impossible to really build a mix without being able to isolate things and make EQ decisions along the way.

 

That, and my desk is WAY too close to the wall so anything beyond what's patched into the bay involves me crawling under the thing and I just hate it...sometimes it just doesn't get done. :cool:

 

Solution?

 

Building a new room this year, isolated control room and tracking area. Oh, and the desk looks like it will be like 4' or more from the window / wall...! Bam, both problems solved.

 

War

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It's about finding the right language to communicate with each individual. Some people can relate to more technical stuff like "that was very tight rhythmically, try playing a little looser against the groove". Other people need artsy/flowery stuff like "That was very rigid, try to go with the flow", or "that was like a rock, try to be more wispy".

 

I think I'm pretty good at that. Just not pushing them more...I mean, if I know them well and I *know* that they can do better, that's usually not a problem. But if it's someone that I don't know really well, I feel like I don't know if I can push them psychologically or whatever, and don't know what can push them, so I usually just opt for cutting a bunch of passes with vocals and comping them together, figuring that if they were gonna nail it, they likely would have done it in 3 or 4 takes.

 

And you know, I can make just about anyone feel really comfortable here and give good performances. That's a strong point. But I don't know if I can really really push them if they are capable of more (and maybe they're not, I don't know!).

 

You know what I'm thinking is that someone like Daniel Lanois seems to always extract performances out of people that are so much more emotionally potent than the performances they do with other people. And it's that very thing that I want to do with people. Is it simply because he's working with higher calibre musicians? Or is there something that I'm not doing? Is there something else I should be doing? I'm just not pushing most people really hard when they come in to record here...they're feeling relaxed and comfortable, sure, but is that enough? I'm not sure.

 

Does this make any sense? Hopefully I'm explaining myself well.

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You know what I'm thinking is that someone like Daniel Lanois seems to always extract performances out of people that are so much more emotionally potent than the performances they do with other people. And it's that very thing that I want to do with people. Is it simply because he's working with higher calibre musicians? Or is there something that I'm not doing? Is there something else I should be doing? I'm just not pushing most people really hard when they come in to record here...they're feeling relaxed and comfortable, sure, but is that enough? I'm not sure.


Does this make any sense? Hopefully I'm explaining myself well.

 

I see what you are getting at.

 

If I was in the player's seat with Lanois producing, I'd wager I'd feel pressured. But OTOH, I'd wager Lanois would have a way of defusing that pressure.

 

So intimidate the talent with your rock star skillz, then ease the pressure with your relaxed personality.

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Sorry this is a little off topic, but have either of you two up there ^ seen the making of the Joshua Tree documentary? There's a few clips on you tube. I found it interesting watching Danny Lanois and Bono sitting at the console, talking about "I Still Haven't Found..."

 

Usually Bono is, shall we say, vocal about everything. But he seemed really meek next to Daniel Lanois, almost like he was sitting next to a teacher or something. It's clear that Lanois commands a lot of respect in person.

 

As for what I'm weak at, well I wouldn't say I'm strong at any particular aspect, But I'd say getting great source tones is probably where I feel weakest at. That, and mic placement. Especially with drum kits, I've never even got close to where I'm happy with a kit recording.

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One of the best engineer/studio owners I worked with asked for payment at the end of every session (at least with us
:D
).


I'd say he was more
firm
than
ruthless
with regard to the clock.


If the band kept him waiting (arriving late, being unprepared), they had to pay. That said, he often cut a "discount" at the end of the session for any of a number of reasons... sometimes it was just because we'd all spent ten or fifteen minutes joking around and talking... so I'd say the band's banker seemed to feel that the studio was firm but fair.

 

 

That's more along the lines of the approach I try to take. If I am going to err insofar as time vs money, it's going to be to the client's benefit and not mine. I don't give the farm away, but if it's a question of a half an hour here or there, I don't lose sleep over it. I certainly don't want the band to leave, and then tell their friends that "he charged us for seven and a half hours, but we took a 45 minute lunch so it should have only been seven and a quarter..." or whatever.

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That's more along the lines of the approach I try to take. If I am going to err insofar as time vs money, it's going to be to the client's benefit and not mine. I don't give the farm away, but if it's a question of a half an hour here or there, I don't lose sleep over it. I certainly don't want the band to leave, and then tell their friends that "he charged us for seven and a half hours, but we took a 45 minute lunch so it should have only been seven and a quarter..." or whatever.

 

Just did that very thing last night- 1/2 hour off the total (for reasons non-technical) and they paid in cash. Even those 1/4 hours add up in the collective mind of the band (if it's a 4-pc band then that equals about 2 and 1/2 minds total:p ) and I agree- you don't have to be quibbly about the small amounts, yet you can be firm where it matters.

I took a couple baths (re: got hosed) early on, and of course "fool me once, shame on you- fool me twice, shame on me", so nothing leaves here without everything being paid in full. The Voxengo free "beeper" is real handy for insuring payment- as soon as I get paid, the beeper is taken out of the chain...

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my weakest point is getting people to be on time!:mad:

 

I tell them straight up that whenever they decide we start the clock starts ticking and it doesnt stop until we're done that day. I usually dont get much of a meal break, usually just read a menu and tell someone what i want, then it appears and i eat while editing/comping/listening back etc. of course i usually do day rates tho.

 

Im not taking money off their bill because i have to go to the bathroom. their jobs dont so why should mine?

 

as for getting paid, make it policy to be paid at the end of the session each day, unless they'd like to pay for half of the projected amount due at the begining and the rest at the end. but nothing leaves till the balance is paid. thats the upside of payment after each session.

 

for those of you doing it for free, as always its your choice but, people dont put much value on something done for free. It becomes expected. People look at a mercedes and see a fancy car because it is expensive. That would not happen if it cost less than a kia. they may say its neat or cute, but it wouldnt be someone's dream to hopefully own it one day so they can be the dirty old man picking up 20y/o playmates as they cruise by the beach.

 

Don't get me wrong, you cant suck and charge $1k a day but you dont have to do it for free either. come up with a day rate or hourly rate that you think is fair for your time, skill, and equipment (if applicable). Talk to your client openly and honestly trying to find what works for them and letting them know you've got expenses too and feel you should be compensated fairly.

 

If you said to a client "Well I'd love to do your project but I'm afraid I can't do x amount of songs for x amount of dollars because I want to make them sound as good as possible and I know that I'd need to spend roughly x amount of time on it which would significantly lower my rate. If you'd like to do fewer songs with me for the same price and time frame you can afford that would be great, if not I can recommend you someone else." They will find the money or do less because you just showed them you are quality over quantity and quality is what's valued.

 

ah, the psychology of recording.:p

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bloody vocal tracks fitting into the mix!

i don't know why but there is always the wrong amount of reverb compression sounds wierd but is nessicary for me at least. all the other parts of the song sound great, the guitars, the drums, the bass, but the vox rarly fit so i just turn them down and cut the mids slightly so they don't poke out through the rest of the nice (for me) sounding mix. also i have trouble getting an acoustic and electric guitar to sound seperate in the mix, either one is too loud or they are of time slightly so it sounds really off or whatever.

i have no idea how to fix this besides asking my cousic who know alot about this stuff for some help

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good lord, you have a 20' telephone pole up your *%#. thats your weakest thing? blaming OTHER PEOPLE for being late? thats lame. not weak.... seriously, you sound like a d*^!#% no one would want to record with in the first place with that post.

 

Like Grandma Pyle used to say: "When you're late you make others wait"

 

So let them know beforehand that you (the engineer) are gonna clock in on time...;) They'll be there right on the money (pun intended).

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