Digital recording = clinical sound?

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burn4ever
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Digital recording = clinical sound?

Post by burn4ever » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:10 am

Hey fellas.
I`m not a pro in the wold of recoding I did it for my self in a homerecording style.
So my question seems very amateurish to the most of you. But anyway ;-)

I?ve think my mixes are not so bad but If I compare to some "big" production
I noticed that my mixes sound to clinical instead of an professionals recoding.

So here my question.
Is it possible to make an mix sound "real" only in the box, or is there the one or other "must have" on outboard stuff I need?

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evilaudio
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Post by evilaudio » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:52 am

"Big production" is just smoke and mirrors. Record what you like and have fun doing it.
Blah!

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:01 am

In the box mixes can sound just fine. There are thousands of "professional" records out there that were mixed 100% ITB.
If you're looking for a silver bullet that will make your recording sound like someone else's I'm sorry to say there isn't one. It could be the players, the room, room treatment, the arrangement, mics used, pre-amps, compressors used in tracking, recording medium (tape? digital?), converters, mixing board, compressors used in mixing, eqs, reverb, mixing medium (tape? digital?), mastering, playback medium etc, etc, and so on and so on.
It could also have to do who made the record. Why can't I play piano like Professor Longhair? Because I'm not Professor Longhair. Why don't my recordings sound like _______? Because I couldn't afford to hire _________.

Welcome to the wonderful world of recording. I'm about 15 years in and feel like I'm just beginning to hit my stride. Talk to other engineers, read everything you can, work, work, work, work and you'll start to see result.

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farview
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Post by farview » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:20 am

The clinical sound has nothing to do with digital. It could have something to do with the equipment you use, but even if you are using the cheapest of cheap stuff, you should be able to get away with it.

In the 80's digital really did sound like crap. That's really not the case anymore, even if you are using some soundblaster gaming soundcard to record with.

The sound starts at the source. Is your source 'clinical' sounding? Is the room dry and dead?

Then the mic. Is this mic capturing all the 'warm' goodness of the source?

The mic preamp. The the preamp adding or taking away creamy goodness?

The mix decisions you make. Are you adding or taking away the wonderfulness of the source?

The priorities are in that order. Any one of those things can give you a clinical sound.

Another thing to consider is the arrangement of the instruments. Sometimes poor arrangement can cause you to have to EQ something too much or make other decissions that make the mix less exciting.

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Post by chris harris » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:45 am

Practice will get you much further along the path to satisfying sounds than anything you can buy.

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Nick Sevilla
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Re: Digital recording = clinical sound?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:54 am

burn4ever wrote:Hey fellas.
I`m not a pro in the wold of recoding I did it for my self in a homerecording style.
So my question seems very amateurish to the most of you. But anyway ;-)

I?ve think my mixes are not so bad but If I compare to some "big" production
I noticed that my mixes sound to clinical instead of an professionals recoding.

So here my question.
Is it possible to make an mix sound "real" only in the box, or is there the one or other "must have" on outboard stuff I need?
Hi,

It takes time and practice to make a recording sound the way you really want.

A few points to consider :

1.- GEAR has nothing to do with it. Seriously.

2.- KNOWLEDGE is everything. Get yourself more knowledge.

3.- MIC PLACEMENT is very important. Microphones do not work like our ears at all. Read this again.

Now, what of your recordings you do not like? Change that first, until it IS the way you like it.

Cheers
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:55 am

evilaudio wrote:"Big production" is just smoke and mirrors. Record what you like and have fun doing it.
Hi,

Yes.. but it is about where you place the mirrors, and how much smoke you use... that is the trick.
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

burn4ever
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Post by burn4ever » Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:18 am

Thanks for your advices.

Are there any sources like the www, books etc. you can recommend I should use to broaden my horizon?

Sure this board ;-)

lefthanddoes
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Post by lefthanddoes » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:44 am

Can you upload a track and we can give you more specific pointers?

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Post by TheRealRoach » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:10 pm

I believe that when most people generalize digital recordings as being "clinical" (aka, sterile, bright, too clean, etc), they are really complaining about the pristine and unforgiving detail and dynamic range that it offers. In other words, the option to be clinical is actually a good thing.

As much trouble as all-analog production presents because of noise floor concerns, tape head wear, calibration, cleaning, inconsistency from day to day, etc, it was/is more tonally forgiving. Like it or not, people respond positively to a fatter low end, softened high end reproduction, and compressed dynamic range.

I'd be willing to bet that if - on all your tracks - you put a 6db/octave low pass @ 15k, a +2 db @ 90Hz, a 12db/octave hi pass at 50Hz, and a 1.5:1 compressor with a deep threshold so that each meter shows a max 3db gain reduction you would be automatically happier with your mix.
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lyman
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Post by lyman » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:33 pm

I find that a lot of the people who make sweeping generalizations about digital vs. analog gear are actually commenting on consumer vs. pro gear. A guy who I recorded liked to get on the "digital will never sound as good as analog" stump. His prior experience being recorded on digital was on some 16 track hard disk recorder in a dorm but he recorded to 2" tape in a pro studio. And then he went on to cite examples of bad sounding albums recorded on digital, all of which were from like 1989, but that's a whole different issue altogether. Anyway, my point is that there's a bigger difference within each medium than there is between mediums, often times the price point being the bigger factor.

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Post by ott0bot » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:18 pm

It takes a while to get good. I did my first recordings on 4 track cassette like 13 years ago....and even though I have a fair amount a decent gear and much more experience....i'm still not entirely satisfied with my work. Do lots of research and invest in gear that you can use for many years. The more you experiment, the more you'll learn.

But what it comes down to for me....is the song good? Is the arrangement good? that is number one. then I think our job as an engineer is to capture what is there. Whether it's digital or analog....if you dont' have a good song and performer....it just wont be great.

What you are saying is sort of a contradiction. What big production recordings are you comparing them to? I think many of those sound clinical, as opposed to a sloppy lofi record, but I don't think that is always a bad thing.

To me the clinical aspect of digital recording comes not from the recording medium itself...but how it's utilized. Alot of digital recordings are DI'd instruments with amp modelers, softsynth with presets. Cheesy, repetative drum machines. Everything is set to a grid and autotuned. Not my cup of tea. I'd much prefer a little rough around the edges with character, than something so perfect it couldn't be produced without the help of a DAW.

During mixing...get creative. Reamp parts and use natural reverb my micing a room instead of using a plug-in. Don't use a click if you have decent timing, or learn to swing with the click. Don't comp hundreds of tracks and time align everything. Let a few little "mistakes" stay in the mix. Volume automate mixes before you apply compression. Learn to use paralell compression, and de-ess vocals. Use subtractive eq instead of boosting everything. These are the things that I keep in mind while mixing to get some character out of my recordings, and also make them sound more like a finished peice of work, instead of a demo.

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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:28 pm

burn4ever wrote:Thanks for your advices.

Are there any sources like the www, books etc. you can recommend I should use to broaden my horizon?

Sure this board ;-)
Hi,

I think a better way of going about this, is to take your favorite songs, and figure out how to make those sounds with your own equipment.

Much better than a book telling you where to put a mic...

Cheers
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

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Post by honkyjonk » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:43 pm

I think you're absolutely right that digital bullshit is making things sound clinical. That's what it does. It sucks the emotion and energy out of any music, always, and it makes things sound ridiculously two dimensional and right on the edge of the speakers. I have an Otari Radar II unit, which was supposed to be the shit back in the day. They're the same converters the Radar 24's still have. No, not like NOW currently modern top dog stuff, but top dog when it came out.

I hear a lot that digital sound is better and better these days, but I don't hear it being better EVER. You know which CD's sound the best to me? The ones from the 80's when then were doing direct transfers without jacking everything up with a bunch of software algorithms.

I wanted to believe in digital because it's so convenient. I wanted to believe in it for a long time.
But that Radar unit compared to my 1/2" Tascam 58 machine is a sorry excuse for a capture device. It was so night and day that I couldn't even believe it when I finally got back into analog recording.

I hope you go analog man. I hope that some day we can look back on this nightmare and shake our heads.
Stilgar, we've got wormsign the likes of which God has never seen!

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Post by JGriffin » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:20 pm

honkyjonk wrote:You know which CD's sound the best to me? The ones from the 80's when then were doing direct transfers without jacking everything up with a bunch of software algorithms.
Especially the ones where they accidentally left the RIAA curve untouched, so the resulting CD had no low end--those were awesome. :wink:
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