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 Forum index » How-tos » Production - engineering/mixing
EQ Compression technique
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Drums aren´t really produced the way stereo loops and stereo-output-only devices would suggest. You might consider working on each sound individually. Consider what you said in your previous post and then think about it.. Very Happy You are close..
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

opg wrote:

A. Make EQ adjustments on one or both clashing instruments
B. Run both through a compressor


First of all, consider that bass has tone in the sense that a certain frequency has a tonal character. Keep this in mind when tuning drums for a bassline. There is a science to this.

Consider a sidechain that mutes the bassline for each important bass kick. You can set this up in your DAW using midi too.. so you can use midi events to control when something this way too.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

OPG, do you have some tracks we can listen too?
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I would avoid using the spectrum analyzer because it often shows things you don't hear. Use your ears. This forum and and others are full of screen shots of oscilloscopes and spectrum analyzers but very little if anything is gained from using these pieces of test equipment.

Paul E. wrote:
btw, mosc, check George Martin for the use of the orchestra AND compression etc..

the cello sound on 'i am the walrus' ? heavily-compressed


Yes, I'm a real Beatles fan and I know a lot about the Beatles recordings. I've read several books about their recording sessions. George Martin did a lot of stuff with compressors and equalization to make the tracks sound original. I love this stuff. I'm not nearly as enthusiastic about the 25 years of subsequent pop music production that tries to emulate those sounds.

A friend of mine just paid a lot of money for his prog group's CD to get mastered by a professional mastering engineer that is famous for his work. I asked, "what does the result sound like." He said, "It's great. It sounds like every other prog CD." What's the point?

EQ and compressors are tools of the trade. The more experience you have with them the better. But they aren't requirements and there is certainly no fixed way to use them. After all, this is an art form. It's good that we have many different opinions about this.
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
I would avoid using the spectrum analyzer because it often shows things you don't hear. Use your ears. This forum and and others are full of screen shots of oscilloscopes and spectrum analyzers but very little if anything is gained from using these pieces of test equipment.


This is sound advice.

A spectrum analyzer is great, but it is often better to use it when you already know something about what you are trying to figure out and why.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Unfortunately, I removed my current song from my flashdrive, so I can't upload it today. However, my wife will be out until the wee hours doing extra work for that Rocky film, so I will pull an all-nighter. I'll post something this evening.

What do you mean about the drum samples? Should I not be lumping them together even if I am applying filters to each sample beforehand? I am nervous (usually because of past experience) that if I don't - at some point- group them together under some overdrive/bitcrusher effects, the drum samples (even though they may be from the same machine) will not have a "cohesiveness." But, I guess this is what I get for not using the actual drum machine itself...

Also, I do tune my kick drums sometimes. It depends on the set I am using. Old drum synths that are basically simple waveforms (sine waves) are a no-brainer, but more "realistic" or sample-based drum sounds don't usually sound as good pitched up or down (unless it is layered with a sine wave, and then there will be some extra filtering involved.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Okay, so I was working on two new songs this weekend. On both of them, I used the same EQ filters and compression methods. All of the percussion was lumped together into one effects channel to use a bitcrusher and some overdrive, and then to a Send channel to use a compressor. ALL instruments were routed to this one Send channel and used the same compressor. Let's see what happened. There are two mp3's attached:


biganalog2.mp3
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 Filename:  biganalog2.mp3
 Filesize:  618.37 KB
 Downloaded:  724 Time(s)


mo-dnb.mp3
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 Filename:  mo-dnb.mp3
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opg



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

DAMMIT

I saved the mp3s as Mono....that's not going to help. On "bigAnalog2," the overdriven electric piano sound should be panning around and around. On "mo-dnb," the chirpy sound's delay should spit out in the left side.

Other than that, everything else is in dead center. But being as how I am mostly concerned with the combination of the bass and drums, and how saturated their supposed to sound, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. Unless saving it as an mp3 in mono does something weird....uh...
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paul e.



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

just curious, but what are you trying to acheive..what kind of sound?

do you want it 'fatter'..more presence?..crispy clean? more funk?

what i heard does not have any 'problems' but what do you find is not quite 'there' yet about it..what do you want to improve?

one thing that did strike me was, the possible lack of real low end in the choice of sounds..maybe a sine-wave bassline would remedy this ?

btw i presume that highpitched clicky thing is part of your 'sound' and not an accident?? because i did find that kind of penetrated my ear in a stabbing way [which may not be a bad thing]

Last edited by paul e. on Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Re; test equipment.

I agree, but I'd also like to say that test equipment is very helpfull if you do hear a issue but can't quite place it. Scopes also make the effects of waveshapers a little more predictable and so can make the selection process shorter.

Also; if things you can't hear do show up it may be time to filter them out in order to preserve headroom.

As a rule of thumb I think it's preferable to have them at hand at all times but to leave them switched off most of the time. It's also very important to considder the time a spectrum analyser returns to zero. This setting must be set properly or the thing will make you get the wrong impression. If you are going to use one it pays off to get used to it before relying on it. If led displays start looking "odd" it may be time to try a VU meter.

I also think the use of reference tracks is underapreceated compared to the use of test equipment. Your ears are (or should be!) very high quality measuring instruments in and of themselves but it pays off to calibrate them if you are going to rely on them. If you are working with material so unique and experimental that no comparable reference tracks can be found I sugest the usage of recordings of small acoustical ensembles. i don't care about the style but try to use music that's recorded as clearly and purely as possible.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

opg wrote:
Let's see what happened.


(all IMHO)

That's a bit too much compression for me.

Grouping channels a bit is ok but this is killing all dynamics.

I'd go for more compressors and less compression so more dynamics. Also considder using longer attack values and vary those over the instruments used trying to achieve a more lively and funky sound. To my ear it sounds like most of this material would benefit from using the EQ after the compressor instead of before it. That first tracks seems to need some HP filtering on some of those lines to give the real low bass elements a bit more room to do their own thing there.

After that considder a slight amount of limiting instead of compression ont he main mix to take care of anny spikes introduced by the longer attacks. Also considder a very slight amount of reverb on some of the mid elements in that first track.

See where that gets you. Don't ever use such extreme settings on a set of tracks again, please. Such settings have their place but that's on single channels or small groups, not ont he main mix and certainly not as a sort of panacea for a set of tracks.

Nice work, musically, relax a little on the production side, this sounds somewhat "presured" to me, and you should be fine if you just let it flow on it's own.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oh yeah.....constructive criticism.

BTW, this is the first time I've actually lumped the entire mix into one compressor. It seemed to work okay for the 2nd one, but not so much the first. I realize that a short attack time on a compressor is good for drums, but not so much for bass.

Speaking of bass, I don't like the bass in the first song. There's not enough there, and I will probably replace it with something more like the other song.

The 2nd song (biganalog2 - i have such stupid filenames) is what I am most worried about because it is so close to the sound I want to achieve. I want the drums dead-center and the bit-crushing noise very obvious. I would also like the bassline dead-center and very fat and warm, whether it be from a VSTi "analog" synth, an actual soundlab synth, or low notes from an Apple IIe. I don't want to add to much lo-fi effects to other instruments because I am hoping that running the entire song through a tape recorder and back to the computer will add a good tape sound with some noise.

I really wish there were songs I could use as reference. I'm stuck between Autechre and chiptunes, I guess. I love the noise that comes with a song made from digital square waves from old computers, but I also like tape saturation.

Also, I'm for any techniques that do not involve reverb where reverb would help. This is also something I enjoy about chiptunes and that I don't usually like in electronic music. The newst CD I bought was Autechre's Untilted, and they use a lot of reverb types on the album. It works great to add fullness to their sound, but it's not something I'm interested in.

Sometimes it seems that I am pushing my songs to the point where they could be categorized as "novelty," with the amount of emphasis I put on tape/computer noise. It's easy to find an example of a single synth sound or drum machine sound that is exactly what I want, but when I want to mix those instruments together, that's when things go wrong. Either the bass will detract from the noise from the drums, or the way I use compression to get two fat sounds to work with each other won't go well.

The first song I'm not so worried about (mo-dnb), so if you have any suggesttions about the other on how the drums, bass, and synth are interacting, let me know more!

Thanks
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Okay - It's now lunch break. The songs are in STEREO. Hmm....Through headphones, I like what hear.

What are you guys listening with?

BTW - I never mix with headphones, but somehow it always sounds better.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

opg wrote:

What are you guys listening with?

AKG K 240 S and Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I always listen through every speaker/headphone I can get my hands on. My "good" headphones right now are AKG K44s, the budget ones from Musician's Friend. When I am working on mixing, I switch back and forth between a consumer Sony stereo and my M-Audio active moniters. So far, the M-Audio monitors, the AKG headphones and factory headphones you get when you by a walkman/cd player sound really good when I listen to my songs. So far, my car stereo and portable stereos/boomboxes aren't great. The Sony consumer stereo is good, but lacks the warmth I get from the M-Audios and the headphones.

What does this mean?

Next chance I get, I will separate the instruments from that one compressor on the send channel.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I listened to both cuts. The second sounds much better because of the spacialization.

Anyway, I'm not able to comment on the mastering because I don't know what you are aiming out. It sounds pretty good to me as it is. In general, if there is something that needs correcting, I'd go back to the original tracks and remix rather than try to doctor up the final mixdown.

A friend of mine who had a prog CD mastered by a well-know pro at considerable expense had an interesting experinece. The pro listened to the CD and had them remix it three times before he took it and did his mastering magic. That says something, I think.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

That's good advice.

I guess my mastering aim is more of a "what I DON'T want it to sound like" idea. We all know about the cold, sterile sound that CDs can produce. Many of us like this type of sound - and that's great - but my aim is just the opposite. I've been searching all genres of music that influence my songwriting - drum 'n bass, glitch, chiptunes, 70s soundtracks (www.scorebaby.com is an AWESOME site!), PBS station IDs - in hopes that I can find an artist who has brought sounds together like I am trying to do, but so far there hasn't been much luck.

With that in mind, what is the sound that is created from my overcompressing or possible lack of dynamics? I hear people talk about that "pumping" sound, and I know what they mean - I can do that to my songs.

Also, I've noticed that my songs are generally louder but "thinner" that others (not just big commercial CDs, either). I am imagine my songs as a cube: you have volume, panning, and depth. I am usually missing the depth. And I'm sure it's because I use very little reverb. I HATE long reverb, but short room reverbs are okay if done correctly. What else adds to this "depth?"
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Depth? As in room/space and that kinda depth?
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

maybe 'depth' in this case can be acheived with a full frequency mix

by that i mean, full-range bass, mid and hi sounds

having a nice sub bass and then nice tight highs and everything in between

i noticed your mixes have a lot of mid range information due to the types of snares and hit hats etc you use, but less bass and highs...

maybe also add more 'funk'..more noise..distortion...sudden events..strange dynamic panning

also, dynamics can be acheived by devising 'peaks' and 'troughs' in the arrangement itself..so that the sounds do not remain static in the mix

perhaps you would enjoy using a control surface with real faders to get that realtime dynamic feel

nudging up or down sounds in realtime can make a huge difference and add that sense of movement and dynamism

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

paul e. wrote:

nudging up or down sounds in realtime can make a huge difference and add that sense of movement and dynamism

So true.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

So, Retake!

OPG do another take and if you don't get a top40 hit after all that we'll give you a complete refund.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
So, Retake!

OPG do another take and if you don't get a top40 hit after all that we'll give you a complete refund.


Well, it is in our contract... Laughing

I have a nice Evolution MIDI controller keyboard, but I don't usually use the knobs and faders - even though I know I should. That's a great idea.

Interesting, I always thought I had too much bass. The mids I new about and the highs I tend not to have, because of the "vintage recording" idea in my head. I remember watching a Frequency Spectrum Analyzer when I was going through some old vinyls - Al Green, etc - and I didn't see anything above 16KHz. Besides, I hate shimmering highs, like corporate rock cymbals and breathy RnB/pop vocals.
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