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Clarity in a rendering

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Clarity in a rendering

Postby gogreen » Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:24 pm

In another thread, Randy commented on getting clarity in a rendering:

The process of getting some clarity in the initially semi-muddy sound (an artifact of piling up layers of instruments) always involves pushing down low frequencies, playing with the instrument panning more, and reducing reverb until its more subtle.

In the Aria player, does "pushing down low frequencies" mean making the EQ low setting lower, or making that low setting higher? (Trying to avoid a "who's on first" thing)

And suppose I wanted to make the lows lower of, say, a tuba part. In the Aria player is it best to lower the "low" EQ setting, or increase the "high" EQ setting? Or both? Are there any hard and fast rules on these kinds of adjustments?

Thanks.

Art
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Re: Clarity in a rendering

Postby rbowser » Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:54 pm

Hi, Art - That quote from me was a pretty vague, sketchy capsulized version of what I meant by "getting clarity." Over the years I've posted so much on that general topic, I think I get tired of hearing myself talk about it! lol.

I'll tell you this: As time goes on I just want to make the process of producing music easier, not more complicated. There are some long, drawn out routines I learned some years ago that I just don't do anymore. Along with a lot of people, I just find myself wanting to keep things simpler, less of a hassle. There are people who are die-hard techies who just eat up all the engineering stuff, and that's what they live for. Fine - I've just had to let go of it to some degree in order to get back more enjoyment from my work. So - I'll try to keep this clear but without getting you off into a technical tangent like the one I've been escaping from!

gogreen wrote:In another thread, Randy commented on getting clarity in a rendering:

The process of getting some clarity in the initially semi-muddy sound (an artifact of piling up layers of instruments) always involves pushing down low frequencies, playing with the instrument panning more, and reducing reverb until its more subtle.

In the Aria player, does "pushing down low frequencies" mean making the EQ low setting lower, or making that low setting higher?


"Rolling off the bass" is the phrase most often used. Definitely LESS bass - that's what I meant by pushing down. When you look at a graphic EQ, things are so much more clear than just dealing with knobs like in ARIA. Look at one of those built in EQs in Sonar. Activate the first one. Pull its slider down - you'll see the curve dive down. Now, the much more technically minded engineer is going to want to find specific frequencies to effect - What I'm saying is that since bass frequencies build up from layers of so many instruments that have a lot of bass content, you just have to roll off the bass in at least some of them. That's the major step in making a mix less muddy. Maybe the instrument you've applied EQ roll off to will sound too thin on its own - that doesn't matter. What you're concerned about is how all the instruments work together in the mix. So taking my current jazz cue post as an example, the string bass had its bass lowered. Doesn't matter exactly how much. I used Sonar's EQ - I just grabbed the slider and wonked it all the way to the left.


gogreen wrote:...And suppose I wanted to make the lows lower of, say, a tuba part. In the Aria player is it best to lower the "low" EQ setting, or increase the "high" EQ setting? Or both?...


Once again, a pro engineer would write you a book on this. But here's the basic story on your new question: The basic rule is to Cut the amount of a frequency before pushing any up higher. That's because you can start getting a harsh mix if you start pushing up the highs. Lowering the level of any frequencies will make your over all volume lower - No problem, just compensate with a volume slider.

But in a tuba, for instance, it's likely to be that rumbling low stuff which is going to be drowing out things like a bass trombone, or cellos and basses if you're working with strings. So boosting its highs wouldn't do anything to help with the problem. You have to cut the bass in either the tuba, or in the other instruments. You don't cut everywhere - just selectivily. You could cut the highs too, and you'll notice a dulling of the sound - but in some cases, maybe you Do want to dull out the sound of an instrument some so that a soloist can shine more.

The other complex theory of using EQ I've just let go of for the most part. There are complicated routines for finding the characteristic notch for an instrument, and then notching that down in the other instruments. You listen for frequencies that seem to be Honking in a track - you can sweep around with an EQ control and discover what frequency that is, then lower it. All of it is just using your ears. But if you get too carried away, you could find yourself working on EQ for days and days -

The other parts of that quote from me - Panning is important, because when you'll notice an instrument disappearing, usually you can hear some improvement, you'll hear it better, if its pan pot is moved just even a Teeny bit in one direction or the other. Where it was sitting was making it compete for the same space with another instrument.

Reverb - Gotta have it, or music sounds unnatural. The old reverb adage is to turn it up until you hear it, then inch it down until you can't hear it anymore. When you can't--then that's your level. Well - that's overly simplistic. But to keep it subtle is always a good idea when you're going for a clearer mix. And don't forget that a lot of reverb plugins have EQs also. When they do, you almost Always want to roll the bass off on those too, to make for a more clear, crystalline reverb sound.

SO - I let my fingers fly on the keyboard in response. I think I've covered it. Do what you can - just don't drive yourself nuts with this stuff!

Randy
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Garritan Organs demos of all 75 stops

"Dorian Gray"

Hardware:

Roland A-800 MIDI keyboard controller
Alesis i|O2 interface
Gigabyte Technology-AMD Phenom II @ 3 GHz
8 Gb RAM 6 Core Windows 7 Home Premium x64
with dual monitors
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Posts: 494
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Software Owned:
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JABB 3
COMB 2
Instant Orchestra
Garritan World
Garritan Classic Pipe Organs
Garritan Harps
Garritan Authorized Steinway
Garritan Stradivari solo violin
Garritan Gofriller solo cello

Sundry soft synths:
Dimension Pro, EZDrummer, over 50 others

Sonar 8.5 (have but don't use Sonar X1)
Sony Sound Forge 10
Sibelius 7

Video editing: Cyberlink Power Director 11

Re: Clarity in a rendering

Postby Michael.B » Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:30 am

gogreen wrote:In another thread, Randy commented on getting clarity in a rendering:
.....
And suppose I wanted to make the lows lower of, say, a tuba part. In the Aria player is it best to lower the "low" EQ setting, or increase the "high" EQ setting? Or both? Are there any hard and fast rules on these kinds of adjustments?

Thanks.

Art


rbowser wrote: ..... Once again, a pro engineer would write you a book on this. But here's the basic story on your new question: The basic rule is to Cut the amount of a frequency before pushing any up higher. That's because you can start getting a harsh mix if you start pushing up the highs. Lowering the level of any frequencies will make your over all volume lower - No problem, just compensate with a volume slider.

..... The other parts of that quote from me - Panning is important, because when you'll notice an instrument disappearing, usually you can hear some improvement, you'll hear it better, if its pan pot is moved just even a Teeny bit in one direction or the other. Where it was sitting was making it compete for the same space with another instrument.

..... Reverb - Gotta have it, or music sounds unnatural. The old reverb adage is to turn it up until you hear it, then inch it down until you can't hear it anymore. When you can't--then that's your level. Well - that's overly simplistic. But to keep it subtle is always a good idea when you're going for a clearer mix.

Randy

Hello Art. Hello Randy,

Art, a very relevant, excellent and essential question. You are clearly developing your mixing skills and a sensitivity to what is needed in a mix.

Randy, as always, relevant, excellent and thoughtful advice.

Randy will recall when I asked this exact same question in the 'other' forums. Without going into details I had to respond to an astonshing attack basically saying we shouldn't be using EQ or Reverb for which I received and accepted an apology. However, sometime later I was astounded when I stumbled across, in a totally unrelated reply to a totally unrelated post, another member agreeing; I ignored this post.

This is one of the reasons I'm out of there. This particular incident went further than a basic resepectful airing. It's not the only reason, just one of them.

Yours is a great question Art, the careful and sensitive use of balancing, panning, reverb, EQ, to mention some elements, are important for a clear, balanced, realistic recording. As Randy wrote, he went on to adjust his approach and I think we all go on learning and adjusting in our use of these elements.

Thanks Art for asking about this and thanks to Randy for reminding us once more of good, reasonable ways to approach the craft of mixing even though you say (tongue-in-cheek) " .. I think I get tired of hearing myself talk about it". :)
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Re: Clarity in a rendering

Postby rbowser » Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:04 am

Michael.B wrote:...Randy will recall when I asked this exact same question in the 'other' forums. Without going into details I had to respond to an astonshing attack basically saying we shouldn't be using EQ or Reverb...


Yes, that was quite a tirade, as I recall. I also think it was written by someone who was consistently argumentative in his posts. He was there for awhile, then got bored with causing trouble, and left.

That person's objections are ones you'll see brought up now and then by recording newbies who don't have enough experience to have a valid opinion, but don't hesitate to express one anyway! hehe. That grumpy poster said that EQ was "mutilation," and that he didn't want the sound of his instruments distorted in that way. I remember that we tried to explain to him that when we start building a piece of music with multiple software instruments, there's going to be a build up of frequencies that make the mix sound muddy, and that it's unavoidable. What has to be done is simply to thin out the content of the lower registers so that ugly pile up of rumbling bass doesn't occur - just as has been talked about on this thread.

I think that poster also confused the difference between real, physical instruments and the virtual versions we work with, - not understanding that there are numerous sonic differences between the two - But that even when an engineer is working on the mix of a live band/orchestra, he's probably still going to be using at least a bit of EQ to get the best sounding mix.

That kind of contentious, wrangling thread is pretty rare over there at the original Forum. I didn't know you were avoiding posting there, Michael, because of some unpleasant experiences. I suppose getting more into that isn't an appropriate topic here, but I wanted to say that I didn't know you were purposely not posting there anymore.

In any case - Mixing: I can honestly say I still always find it a challenge, and like all of us perfectionist musician types, I'm never completely satisfied. What motivates me to put time in on mixing is the dread of having the actual music's effect be blunted by a bad presentation. I'm always hoping for a mix that sounds good enough so that what I've written can be heard with a minimum of distraction.

Randy
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Garritan Organs demos of all 75 stops

"Dorian Gray"

Hardware:

Roland A-800 MIDI keyboard controller
Alesis i|O2 interface
Gigabyte Technology-AMD Phenom II @ 3 GHz
8 Gb RAM 6 Core Windows 7 Home Premium x64
with dual monitors
User avatar
rbowser
 
Posts: 494
Joined: December, 2013
Reputation: 50
Software Owned:
ARIA Player v1.626
ARIA Engine 1.665
GPO4
JABB 3
COMB 2
Instant Orchestra
Garritan World
Garritan Classic Pipe Organs
Garritan Harps
Garritan Authorized Steinway
Garritan Stradivari solo violin
Garritan Gofriller solo cello

Sundry soft synths:
Dimension Pro, EZDrummer, over 50 others

Sonar 8.5 (have but don't use Sonar X1)
Sony Sound Forge 10
Sibelius 7

Video editing: Cyberlink Power Director 11

Re: Clarity in a rendering

Postby gogreen » Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:25 am

Oh boy. Talk about a can of worms. At least for me, anyway.

Thanks, Randy, for this explanation. I will absorb it, study it, and emulate it.

Art, a very relevant, excellent and essential question. You are clearly developing your mixing skills and a sensitivity to what is needed in a mix.

Yes, Michael. I am trying to do just that. Thank you, mainly Randy and Michael, for your patience and helpful responses.
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Arthur J. Michaels
https://www.facebook.com/composerarthurjmichaels
Core i7 860 @ 2.80 GHz, 8.0 GB RAM
Windows 10 Home x64 SP 1
M-Audio Delta Audiophile 2496
M-Audio AV40 monitors
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Posts: 109
Joined: December, 2013
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Software Owned:
Finale 2000 to Finale 2014.5 (currently using 2014.5)
COMB2
GPO4, GPO5
Aria Player 1.860
Aria Engine 1.860

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