Digital recording = clinical sound?

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JGriffin
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Post by JGriffin » Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:01 pm

cgarges wrote:
noeqplease wrote:Pro Tools is NOT a verb.
Neither is "impact" and "impactful" is not even a word. Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. I just saw that word in a supposedly "edited" publication.

Chris Garges
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...and "disconnect" is not a NOUN!


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Post by jgimbel » Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:30 am

dwlb wrote:...and "disconnect" is not a NOUN!
It can be!

In response to the levels of digital, I wasn't saying -18 to -12 was too too low or anything, yes, that's definitely keeping things at a good point. I guess I meant playback as much as anything (though I tend to hate a too-low digital signal more than a too-low analog signal. Like I mentioned from my experience (whether or not it is the same as everyone else's) it's easier to get the "overly clinical" sound from digital stuff when you have things significantly low - either on the way in or on playback - while tape seems to not lose quite as much at lower volumes. Though at the same time, even the preamps on my Firestudio Project sound great when cranked up a good bit. Low enough to not clip obviously, but not way, way lower than that. Feel free to just disregard me, just wanted to clarify that stuff.
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Post by thethingwiththestuff » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:09 am

jgimbel wrote:
dwlb wrote:...and "disconnect" is not a NOUN!
It can be!

In response to the levels of digital, I wasn't saying -18 to -12 was too too low or anything, yes, that's definitely keeping things at a good point. I guess I meant playback as much as anything (though I tend to hate a too-low digital signal more than a too-low analog signal. Like I mentioned from my experience (whether or not it is the same as everyone else's) it's easier to get the "overly clinical" sound from digital stuff when you have things significantly low - either on the way in or on playback - while tape seems to not lose quite as much at lower volumes. Though at the same time, even the preamps on my Firestudio Project sound great when cranked up a good bit. Low enough to not clip obviously, but not way, way lower than that. Feel free to just disregard me, just wanted to clarify that stuff.
hmmm.... it sounds like you really just prefer to listen to things loud. i dont think whatever you noticed has anything to do with the recorded levels. running digital signals hot offers no benefit, and once you've got a plugin or two inserted, you've got to make sure you aren't clipping any of them internally even if the channel isn't peaking out. mic pre gain is an analog stage of course, but if you want to run them very hot you should pad it down before the converters.

again - turn up your amplifiers, and keep your virtual faders at a moderate level.

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Post by Wlouch » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:58 am

If anything hot levels is detrimental to your results. Try doing a track start to finish lower, monitoring lower, only pushing the levels of the monitors for a reference of low end and balance at louder volumes. Then take it back down to a soft level. The lower you mix at the more balance you end up getting I find.

I mix at volumes where people would consider the track a few seconds away from fading out entirely. I balance instruments and effects this way, then I whack it up to say 80dBSPL see how it all sits, make minor adjustments, and lower it back down again. Constantly flicking between the two to get the right sound. Before I think I am done I play it back at a very specific fletcher-munson curve level on full range speakers, and listen throughout. Make adjustments as necessary. You will get a better balance doing something similar to this. The results speak for themselves.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sq10PhUG9VQ
This is not my work, it is just a very good example of recording levels and monitoring levels to create such good balance between instruments.

For some reason you get weird looks tracking between -18 to -12dBFS, you get weird looks for monitoring at low volumes, you get weird looks for mixing with plenty of headroom left. Send it to a good mastering house and they love you.

I have one major rule that will never be broken in my studio "I point blankly refuse to track, mix or master hot for non artistic reasons". If a record label approaches, I will point them towards that notice, it is then up to them.

Artists take convincing that recording lower makes a louder record. It does seem very backward, but its just how it works. Artists shouldn't have an opinion on how to do MY job. I don't go to restaurants telling the chef how to make me bolognese, so why the hell should an artist have any say in the matter? We are professionals doing our job, this sort of behaviour is not accepted anywhere else, so why is it so freely observed in music? I am not talking about artistic decisions, that is entirely down to the artist, or if they ask for options then I will gladly give them some, otherwise it is entirely their session. But I do not appreciate being told how to do my job, I make this very clear before sessions, I think it provides a mutual respect between you the recording engineer, and the artist(s).

Too many artists think they know better, one told me to "record hotter to use all of the bits". That is when I decided to make it abundantly clear before sessions that I am doing my job, they do theirs. Sufficed to say this guy ended up taking up a lot of time to convince. He got offended at first. We are still brilliant friends to this day.

I may sound a little harsh. I assure you I do it in a polite and understanding way. Set up some professional boundaries, your work will benefit, and the session will run smoother.

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losthighway
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Post by losthighway » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:20 am

Fletcher Munson has a curve.

I find jumping down to low levels is a good way to check if everything can be heard and has enough real estate in a mix, but if I mixed a whole record at super low volumes I would imagine the low frequencies, even the low mids would be a problem.

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Post by Wlouch » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:40 am

Yeah, I am always flicking between soft and louder. I do most of the balance at lower volumes. I find I hear things more clearly that way. Turn it back up to make sure it sounds good louder, and continue making adjustmentsthroughout, albeit 1/4dB up or down on something, or .8 of a dB at 240hz cut. Whatever it may be, it all adds up to make a better mix.

As for the Fletcher-Munson curve, there are multiple curves, one of which is the optimum for "flat" response in relation to how we hear. I guess i didn't articulate that part very well.

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Post by ott0bot » Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:08 am

Upon futher reflection...it seem the most clinical thing about digital recording is all the eye tests you have to get after staring at a monitor for 17 hours straight.

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Post by Peterson Goodwyn » Sat Oct 23, 2010 9:33 am

cgarges wrote:
noeqplease wrote:Pro Tools is NOT a verb.
Neither is "impact" and "impactful" is not even a word. Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. I just saw that word in a supposedly "edited" publication.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
I agree with you on the second one, but "impact" is a verb. Ex: "Does using tape impact the sound quality of the recording?"
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Post by signorMars » Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:18 am

Somewhere, there is an EXCELLENT thread on gain staging somewhere on this board. I think Joel Hamilton started it? I didn't find it with a quick search, but maybe someone knows where it is? It really cleared up the digital recording levels issue for me. It's important to remember, as Wlouch mentioned earlier in this thread, that -18dbFS (what your digital meters show) is the same as 0dbVU (what your analog meters would show). This means running with an average level of -18db on your DAW is the same as running with an average level of 0db on a tape machine.

Also remember, that as you add bits to a digital signal (8 vs 16 vs 24, etc), the bits add dynamic range to the BOTTOM of the volume scale, meaning you can record quieter and quieter sounds without hitting your noise floor. Think of it this way. If you only had 1 bit (i meant this in a very basic sense, not as in the 1bit DSD stuff that's going on now) you could only produce sounds that are either ON or OFF. So you can produce either full volume or no sound at all. You move to 2 bits, and you now have 4 values (0-3). So you can make a sound that is full volume, about 66% volume, about 33% volume and 0% volume. And so on. So "using all the bits" would actually mean recording quieter and increasing the bit rate of your sound adds dynamic range on the bottom of the volume scale.

The OP asked about books. Get Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science by Bob Katz, ISBN 978-0-24-080545-0. Even if you're not interested in mastering, his explanation of how digital audio and headroom work is great and VERY applicable to tracking.
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cgarges
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Post by cgarges » Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:36 am

Meathands wrote:I agree with you on the second one, but "impact" is a verb. Ex: "Does using tape impact the sound quality of the recording?"
No, that's actually a horrid use of that word, in terms of proper English and a shining example of my point.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC

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roygbiv
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Post by roygbiv » Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:18 pm

cgarges wrote:
Meathands wrote:I agree with you on the second one, but "impact" is a verb. Ex: "Does using tape impact the sound quality of the recording?"
No, that's actually a horrid use of that word, in terms of proper English and a shining example of my point.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
What do you guys think of this word: "engruntled"?

(i.e., to be gruntled, in the opposite of disgruntled)

Does it exist? If not, did I just invent it? Should I try to trademark it?
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Post by logancircle » Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:19 pm

You really can get in there and sculpt your sounds using all ITB tools, but it takes longer to learn how, and that's only when you've got handle on the tools themselves. Most folks tend to buy a nice compressor once they get decent at using compression plugins. Most people also don't bother exploring the full potential of ITB compressors or comps in series because, well, why bother if you can get an RNC or Distressor whatever. But who cares. Misusing a plugin effect is as bad as misusing the same outboard effect. Likewise, making a bass guitar sound super badass on that same gear is equally awesome.
Last edited by logancircle on Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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cgarges
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Post by cgarges » Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:19 pm

I don't know if it exists, but I LIKE IT!

Chris Garges
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roygbiv
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Post by roygbiv » Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:23 pm

Update: apparently I have not invented what could be a most useful word.

If you follow down the thread (below), apparently someone has already claimed it as their namesake.

drats.

http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/wh ... -word.aspx

Sorry for the thread-jack. Have an engruntled, combobulated day.
Last edited by roygbiv on Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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logancircle
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Post by logancircle » Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:23 pm

A perfect analogy for this thread:

Which is better: using proper grammar or knowing what you're talking about?

Analog(y) ... God, the puns are terrible.
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I run the recording & video studio at the DC PUBLIC LIBRARY in Washington, DC. We have good days and bad.
IG: stormydanielson

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