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Old 31st May 2011 , 05:35 AM
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Sometimes when i am recording i find that as i add more and more tracks, some things get a little lost in the mix. Not all the time but sometimes. When this happens and you want the instrument that's gotten lost to come to the fore, what should you use to do it?

I'll give you an example. Usually i start my songs with an acoustic Guitar track and i start to build everything around that. The acoustic is rarely the main instrument but i like to build things around an acoustic track of the song. I record all Guitars etc at -24dbfs. As i start to add more tracks like Bass, and electric Guitar etc the acoustic Track gets lost and you don't really hear it anymore but if i took it away you would notice. Usually that's what i'm after but if i want to bring the acoustic Guitar to the fore, how is best to achieve it? I know i could always raise the fader but that doesn't always do the job. In the past i have used a limiter to make it louder in the mix but i've read so many times that limiting ruins the sound. I don't want to re-record it louder than -24dbfs as i'll end up with clipping so how is it best to get that level up within the mix? If something is getting lost, how do you make it louder in the mix so it stands out again? If raising the fader right up doesn't do enough, what should i use on that track to get it louder so it is at the fore so it stands out again? Is the answer to pull everything else down?
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Old 31st May 2011 , 01:33 PM
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In situations like this, the first question you should ask is "what doesn't need to be there?" It can be a hard decision for an artist producing their own music to make, I know I'm prone to it myself, but sometimes you need to put your producer hat on properly and view your music as though it is someone else's, that way you can be a bit more objective (and possibly ruthless) about cutting parts that don't really add much to the mix. You'd be suprised how you still get the same feel to the arrangement, but less cluttered by simply removing stuff that isn't really adding anything useful.
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Old 31st May 2011 , 02:30 PM
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Hi Chris, I remember making a similar comment to Dave's when reviewing one of your songs:

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Originally Posted by Lester View Post
... have so little going on that the guitar chords were uncluttered ...
It is not my place to tell you how your songs should sound. They sound very full to me, not that there is anything wrong in that but it does mean that you have more to do to make things cut through when you want them to. My thoughts turn to frequencies and what is competing for presence at particular frequencies (I'm thinking wide bands rather than specific Hz).

When I have my room complete and the DAW up and running (by September, I hope) I would love to have one of your songs to do a remix. It will be good practice for me and if I succeed I can demonstrate what I am thinking better than I can explain it.
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Old 31st May 2011 , 05:03 PM
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Well the problem i'm having at the moment is with a Guitar Solo. I am working on a track and almost everything is recorded but i am having problems with the solo. It's a big part of the song, a sort of climax in the song. When i recorded the solo on one mono track at -24 dbfs, you could barely hear the solo against the other music. So, like i usually do, i recorded the solo again on another mono track and that improved the volume and also the overall sound of the solo but it still didn't quite cut through enough. I then recorded the same solo part another 2 times to get the solo to a reasonable level against the other music in the song. I always have that problem with Solo's and i end up having to take measures to try and get the solo up to a level that will cut through the overall mix, usually by recording the same part multiple times. If i was to record the solo on one single track alone, how would i be able to get it up to a level where it will be loud enough against the rest of the music? As i said before, i have used a limiter in the past to achieve more volume in this situation but keep reading that limiting is not a good idea.

I usually am looking to achieve a full sound in most of my songs as that is how i envisage them to sound in my head. Apart from bass and percussion, all my Guitars and vocals are at least double tracked and sometimes Guitars parts are recorded 3 and 4 times to achieve a fuller sound. I like the sound that gives me but am i wrong in doing that?

And Lester, i'd be happy to send me one of my songs to re-mix if you like.
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Old 1st June 2011 , 06:21 PM
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I donít want teach you how to suck eggs mate but -24db is way to low to track at, you need to track a fair bit hotter than that. The reason being youíre not leaving yourself much room to play around with gain structure wise if your fader is sat at unity and youíve tracked that low. The slightest nudge towards Ėve infinity will affect the presence of the track in the stereo picture where as the reverse to that is that you donít have enough fader to bring it up.

Do you do a level mix after youíve tracked everything and before you really get your teeth into the project?

Double tracking isnít really that worth it unless you vary whatís actually being played by each guitar itís also better to use a different guitar or effect to play the other parts otherwise you are in danger of ending up with big mono.






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Old 2nd June 2011 , 05:34 AM
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I donít want teach you how to suck eggs mate but -24db is way to low to track at, you need to track a fair bit hotter than that. The reason being youíre not leaving yourself much room to play around with gain structure wise if your fader is sat at unity and youíve tracked that low. The slightest nudge towards Ėve infinity will affect the presence of the track in the stereo picture where as the reverse to that is that you donít have enough fader to bring it up.

Do you do a level mix after youíve tracked everything and before you really get your teeth into the project?

Double tracking isnít really that worth it unless you vary whatís actually being played by each guitar itís also better to use a different guitar or effect to play the other parts otherwise you are in danger of ending up with big mono.






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I've read on here that tracking at -24dbfs is a good idea I was tracking louder than that before and by the end i had no room to do anything without getting clipping.

What do you mean by a "level mix"? Does that simply mean that i sort the levels of everything before actually adding effects etc?

When double tracking, i usually do double track different tones but not always. Sometimes i have a particular sound i like but i just want to make it bigger and wider. Then i pan hard left and right to get a wider full effect as that us usually what i'm trying to achieve. I double track my vocals because they're weak if i don't. I'm not a singer and double tracking definitely helps! I also use a delay effect that Trev suggested i used on a vocal in one of my first recordings and i have found it has suited subsequent recordings pretty well too.


This isn't a huge problem and i usually do find a way around it but certainly with Guitar solo's, within my type of songs, it's unthinkable to have a solo that is just a single track of the solo. It just wouldn't be loud enough.

Just don't like to think that i am really going wrong somewhere when tracking. I downloaded Izotope Alloy last night as i was so impressed with their Ozone4 software. It's a mixing tools package. I used it a little on the new song i'm working on and it definitely improved things. I was able to apply a tiny amount of EQ to the solo and it cut through nicely. I also managed to open up the rhythm Guitars nicely too. I very very very rarely use the EQ that comes with Cubase, or at all for that matter as i'm always weary of wrecking things but applying just a little within Alloy seemed to do the trick.
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Old 2nd June 2011 , 08:59 AM
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First things first there are quite a number of questions you are asking here even though you might not be fully aware of what it is you are actually asking however what is quite clear is that you can hear the difference. Master fader is a very different fader to all others and is usually where overall dbRMS is measured. Now if you listen to mastered CD’s you’ll find, for rock/dance music, that average dbRMS is roughly -13 to -11dbRMS below full digital scale although down to -24dbRMS, whilst quiet, is an acceptable dbRMS level to some. As you can gather I’m not a fan of the lower numbers I prefer a master to have real time peaks of anything up to – 6 to -12dbRMS so as to catch the troughs at -24 to -18dbRMS. In real terms, that means that the loud peaks are loud enough not to have the listener reaching for the volume and equally the quieter bits are quiet and very audible maintaining a decent dynamic range.


There is a fair bit of opinion based knowledge in this area, ‘the loudness war’, but first of all we’ll try and enlighten on the difference between dbFS and dbRMS. -24dBRMS is an overall level over time, while -24dBFS is a peak level at a given point in time, although you might find people referring to dBFS as an overall level also, and in your manual if they bothered to put in where the converters are calibrated probably somewhere between -18 and -15dBFS, which would equal line level or 0dBVU.


Now I’m going to push a little more on the master fader, pardon the pun. The master fader... IMO, it should stay at unity, period. With some programs, there's no particular difference if it's lowered vs. the individual faders being lowered, (your tracks pre and post fader is also something to give some thought to). But it's just "really bad form" IMO and should be avoided. If your master fader is clipping consistently with all the individual faders at unity, you probably tracked too hot. It’s not that it won't clip here and there anyway even with normal tracking levels, you're probably going to have to attenuate most tracks somewhat. But if your mix is even approaching full scale, then grab all the faders and back them off some.


To simplify this considerably. Individual tracks should reach possibly -6 to -10dBFS if they're heavy transients (kick, snare, etc.) and considerably lower maybe -12 to -18dBFS for most everything else. One thing you can bet on, almost anything you do for the sake of volume will insure that you'll never get it. Worry about clean, clear, focus, performance, core sounds while tracking at levels where you won't even be within a cannon-shot of clipping the input.


Remember that ‘volume’ or the lack thereof should ‘never’ be the goal in the first place. But the best-sounding (clearest, cleanest, most focused) mixes with hoards of headroom at every possible stage that have the potential for that sheer volume.






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Old 2nd June 2011 , 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piano View Post
What do you mean by a "level mix"? Does that simply mean that i sort the levels of everything before actually adding effects etc?


A Level mix is precisely this having nothing whatsoever on the inserts no dynamics nothing. You can set your levels/panning roughly where you like them in terms of the overall mix. Think about it like you are trying to recreate some sort of performance for the listener preference. When you have this close to your liking then you can really get your teeth into it.




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Old 2nd June 2011 , 09:01 AM
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When double tracking, i usually do double track different tones but not always. Sometimes i have a particular sound i like but i just want to make it bigger and wider. Then i pan hard left and right to get a wider full effect as that us usually what i'm trying to achieve. I double track my vocals because they're weak if i don't. I'm not a singer and double tracking definitely helps! I also use a delay effect that Trev suggested i used on a vocal in one of my first recordings and i have found it has suited subsequent recordings pretty well too.


This isn't a huge problem and i usually do find a way around it but certainly with Guitar solo's, within my type of songs, it's unthinkable to have a solo that is just a single track of the solo. It just wouldn't be loud enough.


There are a number of ways to broaden the sound, for example, of a guitar track without double tracking. An example might be to use a mono/stereo delay on the mono signal guitar track. How itís done is by sending the mono signal into the effect setting a 0 dry/wet mix level on the left channel of the delay and also backing off the gain of the left delay to trick the ears into believing the right is heard first. On the right we set the delay time to something pretty small like 10-15ms with a full wet/dry mix.



EDIT: I forgot to mention that the reason this pseudo stereo works is because when you centre pan a mono signal what is actually happening is an auditory illusion your ears are being tricked because equal signal amplitude is being sent to both the right and left output channels creating the phantom centre.

And no youíre not doing anything wrong in particular youíre just getting into more detail of what is actually going on and youíre hearing it.





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Old 2nd June 2011 , 08:00 PM
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Quote:
I donít want teach you how to suck eggs mate but -24db is way to low to track at, you need to track a fair bit hotter than that.
This is the only bit of the above I disagree with. I'm sure Piano picked this up from me. I track at average levels of -24 to -18 dbfs with peaks going to no more than about -10dbfs.

Piano, at the mixing stage all you do to make the guitar solo louder is pull back the ones that are overpowering it. Simple as: start off your mix with everything turned down more. As Weaver says, deal with overall volume later.
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Old 2nd June 2011 , 08:22 PM
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Man, that is a lot to try and understand but i appreciate you taking the time to try and explain it a bit more in depth to me.

I should make it clear that i'm not looking to make things really loud at any point. Loudness is not my goal. Having each level right is though and like i say, i always find that if i track a Guitar solo at -24dbfs (the same level i've tracked Guitars, Bass etc at) the solo just doesn't cut through. If i track it at a louder level, i would end up with clipping. I'm pretty comfortable tracking at -24 for now because when i started recording, i was getting clipping a lot when it came to mixing because i was tracking louder.Happened all the bloody time and it was a pain in the arse. Now i rarely get it and i have room to use my Ozone mastering software at the end without constantly going into the red. Drums are the only thing that don't peak at -24. They are always louder.

As an aside, does anyone who uses Cubase know if there is a way to select multiple faders and bring them all down by the same amount at the same time? That would make pulling things back a lot simpler whilst still maintaining the different levels between each track, if you know what i mean!

Thanks again mate.
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Old 2nd June 2011 , 08:51 PM
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Yep, click on the channels you want while holding ctrl so they're highlighted the right click on one of them and press 'link channels'.
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Old 3rd June 2011 , 05:27 AM
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Yep, click on the channels you want while holding ctrl so they're highlighted the right click on one of them and press 'link channels'.
Thanks Wilty!
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Old 3rd June 2011 , 06:35 AM
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This is the only bit of the above I disagree with. I'm sure Piano picked this up from me. I track at average levels of -24 to -18 dbfs with peaks going to no more than about -10dbfs.

Piano, at the mixing stage all you do to make the guitar solo louder is pull back the ones that are overpowering it. Simple as: start off your mix with everything turned down more. As Weaver says, deal with overall volume later.



I don’t think we are necessarily disagreeing to be honest Trev. I may be wrong but I’m guessing we both employ a similar methodology during tracking. You know the old 0VU = -18dBFS ‘rule’ being a safe average of how A/D converters are calibrated. The problem is, and I’m more than sure you know this, that there really isn’t an industry standard so we will see minor discrepancies from gear to gear, studio to studio. A lot of (especially older) gear used a -14dBFS ADC calibration "standard", DAT and ADAT machines use/d -15dBFS. Many current interfaces use -18dBFS, though some are at -16, others at -20. Then modern DAW desks can run from -16 on some of the cheaper models to as low as -24 on many of the newest, better-quality digital desks. There seems to be a trend though towards quieter conversion rates as ADCs and digital technology in general gets better. There’s a lovely little test tool WAV consisting of a 1 kHz sine wave recorded at -20dBFS I have used in the past for metering. If Piano was interested I could PM him a link for it in trust. To be fair though Trev like most stuff in this game the disclaimer ‘YMMV’ applies yet again.



Rather than just say to Piano do ‘this’ (back off the rest of the mix) I felt he was approaching the stage where it was better to explain what was going on the ‘why’ of it if you like. Of course ultimately and for pedantic accuracy he would need to find out the spec on his converters to calibrate his software metering accordingly. It’s one of the main reasons I’m not a fan of Cubase IMO the metering is poor. When everything on the computer (including any driver level controls, if available) is set for unity gain, the metering will reflect what is coming out of the N12, and what is coming out is a direct result of what is going into it. And what is going into it is determined by the input gain knobs. At the end of the day it just goes to show you the possible amount of headroom (and possibly S/N ratio) that can be wasted. You may also have noticed that I leave a few gaps in my replies to some questions it’s really just a device to provoke further question. Finally as you rightly pointed out the main thrust of my reply was to remember that tracking levels and final mix levels are not meant to be the same thing.



Oh and yeah Piano Wiltys suggestion is great especially if you are selecting individual strips from the mixer. From memory I’m pretty sure you can also highlight the first strip then shift click the last strip in your mixer which will highlight all strips in between also. Then right click on the highlighted strips will bring up the link/unlink option too.





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Old 3rd June 2011 , 10:38 AM
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