How to mix with spectral analyzers / analysis / averaging?

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cyrusjulian
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How to mix with spectral analyzers / analysis / averaging?

Post by cyrusjulian » Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:53 am

Hello all,

I've just discovered how to use spectral analysis software but not sure how to mix with it?

Could any of you guys/gals provide any feedback/tips on how to best utilize it?

On the surface, I was initially thinking just looking at the frequencies of each tracks, cutting out the unnecessary frequencies, but i find when I do it too much, it alters the character of the feel of the instrument even though the software program (FreqTweak) shows I'm just cutting out frequencies which aren't critical (if that makes any sense) so I'm guessing a software frequency analyzer is good as a rough reference but to always use your ears as the final judge?

Also, when I run certain guitar tracks that were recorded with specific effects through the analyzer, I see they clash with frequencies from vocals and even bass at times, so was thinking I should now ensure any guitar tracks I record will be recorded at frequencies that don't clash. But do most engineers and producers know this about their guitars/amps ahead of time?? Have they run spectral analysis on all their gear?

Any help greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Cyrus

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Post by wren » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:17 am

First and foremost, don't mix with your eyes, mix with your ears. I wouldn't use spectral analysis software at all during the mixing process UNLESS there was something I was unsure about EQ-wise, and then I'd only look at the entire mix/2-bus, not any single track. If you're uncomfortable about using your ears to equalize things, spectral analysis software is not the way to get good at that; lots of listening and EQing is. Use your ears, not your eyes. If your ears are telling you that the frequencies you just cut are important to the sound of that instrument even though you've been told that those frequencies aren't, then what you've been told about those frequencies with respect to that instrument is wrong, at least in this instance. If it sounds good, it is good. If it looks good but sounds wrong or bad, it's both wrong and bad.

Second: the role that harmonics and room resonances play in the timbre of a sound is huge. Read this and this. You probably won't understand them in entirety, but read them anyway. Then, watch this, then read the first two links again. When you're done with that, download SPEAR (it's a free program, and cross-platform) and play with it for a few days.

In a nutshell: don't worry about frequencies "clashing," i.e. an overlap of frequencies between different instruments. That's OK, that's totally normal. If two instruments are playing the same pitch class at the same time, there's going to be some frequency overlap; it's just a basic principle of physics. Don't worry about what a frequency analyzer tells you with regard to that. If it sounds good, it is good; don't worry so much about what it looks like.
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MoreSpaceEcho
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Re: How to mix with spectral analyzers / analysis / averagi

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:18 am

cyrusjulian wrote:Could any of you guys/gals provide any feedback/tips on how to best utilize it?
turn it off.

your ears will tell you way more than any spectrum analyzer ever will. i know that's not the answer you want but you mix by listening to stuff, not looking at it.

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rhythm ranch
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Re: How to mix with spectral analyzers / analysis / averagi

Post by rhythm ranch » Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:50 pm

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:turn it off.
+1

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Babaluma
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Post by Babaluma » Sun Jul 31, 2011 1:00 pm

i also prefer to mix with my ears. by all means use these tools as an adjunct to what you are hearing, but definitely don't rely on them to tell you what to do.

MoreSpaceEcho
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Sun Jul 31, 2011 1:08 pm

i do have to say that watching 'and justice for all' on the spectrum analyzer is pretty entertaining.

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Post by Z-Plane » Sun Jul 31, 2011 1:23 pm

I have attended many mastering sessions with the main man at one of the UK's best known mastering houses and his eyes rarely stray from the DN60. That's not to say his ears don't get used, but the visual referencing is at least half of the job. Spectral analysis on indivudual tracks is getting pretty anal unless there's a serious rogue frequency needs attention, but you can learn a lot from watching mixes go through the analyser. Take some mixes that seem to translate well, from tiny radios through to concert PA systems and just watch what they are doing, any answers will be self-evident.

I think you may have got a bit caught up in the theory of frequency clash. Two sounds sharing the same frequency range does not equal a clash by default, it could even be considered a harmonious meeting, just throw some panning into the mix and it can all work in your favour. In short, save your analyser for the mix buss or mastering, a correlation meter can provide some very useful data at this point too.

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Re: How to mix with spectral analyzers / analysis / averagi

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:02 pm

cyrusjulian wrote:Hello all,
I've just discovered how to use spectral analysis software but not sure how to mix with it?
Don't... I'm with others here on this one. There are RARE instances where I MIGHT put one on to specifically find an annoying frequency that needs very precise notch filtering. However, this is VERY rare.
Could any of you guys/gals provide any feedback/tips on how to best utilize it?

To find and correct rogue frequencies, but only really thin parts of the spectrum, not a whole swath of spectrum.
On the surface, I was initially thinking just looking at the frequencies of each tracks, cutting out the unnecessary frequencies, but i find when I do it too much, it alters the character of the feel of the instrument even though the software program (FreqTweak) shows I'm just cutting out frequencies which aren't critical (if that makes any sense) so I'm guessing a software frequency analyzer is good as a rough reference but to always use your ears as the final judge?
Wrong, as you found out. Never pay attention to any computer which tells you anything about unnecessary anything. For example a good snare is a wide band spectrum sound, and as such you cannot do too much to it before it sounds artificial.
Also, when I run certain guitar tracks that were recorded with specific effects through the analyzer, I see they clash with frequencies from vocals and even bass at times, so was thinking I should now ensure any guitar tracks I record will be recorded at frequencies that don't clash. But do most engineers and producers know this about their guitars/amps ahead of time?? Have they run spectral analysis on all their gear?
This is utter nonsense. In the music world, it is O.K. to have more than one instrument playing the same notes as another. This is a good thing in Western music, generally speaking... it makes the music sound fuller, fatter, wider. The only Clash I like to hear is The Clash.
Any help greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
Cyrus
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Post by vvv » Mon Aug 01, 2011 4:19 am

The best thing about such stuff, for me, is to find precise edit points, or locate the odd sonic anomaly (ex., clicks and pops), or the narrowest frequency band to de-whistle a "S", or when you wanna lower sompin' inna bleed-filled track, say a hi-hat onna snare track, so you can better use a gate.
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Re: How to mix with spectral analyzers / analysis / averagi

Post by fossiltooth » Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:35 pm

rhythm ranch wrote:
MoreSpaceEcho wrote:turn it off.
+1
+2

Music is a listening art.

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