MP3's in the mix

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 8903
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

MP3's in the mix

Post by vvv » Fri May 26, 2017 10:15 am

So I recently started working with a loose collective I connected with offa CraisList. (Somewhat ironic if you read my posts in the People ... forum).

There's 4-5 musicians recording stuff and trading files via MP3, and sending ruff mixes and sub-mixes via MP3. For various reasons of time, bandwidth and probably sheer laziness/negligence, some of the WAV files are unavailable. Further, because people are spread out, etc., re-recording is not gonna happen.

So far they are forwarding to me 2-mixes of gtr/drums and mebbe bass. I add (so far) vocals and lead gtr and mebbe some keys and we have mostly completed songs.

I convert the MP3's to 32bit before I record, and I mix at 32/44.1.

The results are actually listenable, if a bit lo-fi, but in that it's kinda punk-metal, the lo-fi comes off a bit like a aesthetic.

So, and mebbe I just answered my question, but would I be embarrassing myself to "release" this stuff? Mebbe I should ensure there is a disclaimer?

Opinions?
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

RoyMatthews
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 778
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2005 12:07 pm
Location: Sunnyside Queens, NY

Post by RoyMatthews » Fri May 26, 2017 3:08 pm

Gut reaction. How does it sound when the final mix is bounced to an mp3? More importantly, are the songs good?

I grew up on 3rd generation cassette copies of punk records and I never cared. I liked the songs.

You could fudge the disclaimer by saying something like "these songs are a result of musicians from all over sending files to each other, collaborating in various formats from iPhone to pro and..." Or some such.

It may even add to the appeal. I can't see pointing out the limitations as any bonus to anyone. No one ever says "I recorded this solo on a Squire into a Crate with a SM58 to a Mackie on an ADAT." Ok, some do. Most listeners won't care, though, if the songs are good.
"If there's one ironclad rule of pop history, it's this: The monkey types Hamlet only once."

kslight
moves faders with mind
Posts: 2661
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:40 pm

Post by kslight » Fri May 26, 2017 5:08 pm

Geez get your shit together, I have been ftping proper stems and sessions back and forth between my drummer and singer for years...and we only work at 24 bit 96khz....


J/K...

But seriously? If their internet is slow they should just set it up overnight to upload/download...what I used to do in the dark ages....


Ok for realz, J/K...


If it was me I'd smear your whole mix across some cassette or some shit and no one will ever know. Actually could probably leave it as is and it'll be your dirty little secret.
The only thing that matters is the song.

MoreSpaceEcho
zen recordist
Posts: 6365
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 11:15 am

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Fri May 26, 2017 10:17 pm

converting the mp3s to 32 bit isn't gaining you anything. putting one donut in an empty box doesn't magically make a dozen.

i'd try and do as little processing to them as possible. and yeah, bounce a mix and then convert that to mp3 and see what happens. i feel like 1st gen mp3 can sound fine, but 2nd goes downhill quick.

but a disclaimer? nah.

User avatar
Drone
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 664
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 4:01 pm
Location: Uranus

Post by Drone » Sat May 27, 2017 6:13 am

Image

Seriously.
The previous statement is from a guy who records his own, and other projects for fun. No money is made.

User avatar
I'm Painting Again
zen recordist
Posts: 7050
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 2:15 am
Location: New York, New York
Contact:

Post by I'm Painting Again » Sat May 27, 2017 8:14 am

try your best with what you have available

try not to have any expectations or desire for it to be "good"

getting it done and putting it out there is most important

User avatar
Gregg Juke
cryogenically thawing
Posts: 3531
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:35 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Contact:

Post by Gregg Juke » Sat May 27, 2017 10:40 am

>>>>converting the mp3s to 32 bit isn't gaining you anything. putting one donut in an empty box doesn't magically make a dozen.<<<<

That is one of the most quotable quotes I have ever seen!

GJ
Gregg Juke
Nocturnal Productions Music Group
Drum! Magazine Contributor
http://MightyNoStars.com

"He's about to learn the most important lesson in the music business-- 'Never trust people in the music business.' "

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 8903
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Sat May 27, 2017 11:32 am

Gregg Juke wrote:>>>>converting the mp3s to 32 bit isn't gaining you anything. putting one donut in an empty box doesn't magically make a dozen.<<<<

That is one of the most quotable quotes I have ever seen!

GJ
It's also, IMNSFHO, inaccurate when dealing with mixing and processing. You may not be "increasing the donuts", but you are potentially preserving the flavor.

At the very least, converting to a WAV makes processing and mixdown within the multri-track session that much more stable when all files are the same format, sample and bit rate, etc.

But also, I believe it is accepted theory that any processing that occurs will be done with less artifacts and other issues, which is part of the reason for working at higher bit and sample levels; the files process differently.

Don't believe me? Take a 15 second snippet of a stereo MP3 and dupe it as a 16 bit WAV. Make sure they are perfectly aligned. (Some DAW's upon conversion seem to knock alignment out by some # of samples.)

Now, process the MP3 and the WAV with the same smashing compressor plugin, invert the MP3 file and paste it over the WAV - they should perfectly cancel (as if that processing did not take place and you pasted the inverted MP3 over the unprocessed WAV.)

But now try that with chorus, or reverb - they don't cancel. Try it with compression and reverb - they don't cancel

Now, is that a significant audible difference? My working theory is that the more processing of an MP3, the more degradation. Since I am working with 2-mix MP3's I am potentially using compression, EQ and limiting on that track - I'd rather do it, and consistently, with (in my case) 32/44.1 files than MP3s.

==================================

All of that aside, I initially described the results as lo-fi, but listenable, etc. I guess my main concern is ego-driven, that a sophisticated listener like all y'all not think I fucked up the recording/mix to the extent the bass, drums and bed gtrs are not as clear, defined, articulate, well-EQ'd, etc., as they might be. I mean, I can process the tracks I add to not sound overtly separate/different, but I cannot deny that the MP3 tracks don't sound like I would record them.

Hence my question about a disclaimer ...
Last edited by vvv on Sat May 27, 2017 12:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 8903
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Sat May 27, 2017 11:40 am

kslight wrote:Geez get your shit together, I have been ftping proper stems and sessions back and forth between my drummer and singer for years...and we only work at 24 bit 96khz....


J/K...

But seriously? If their internet is slow they should just set it up overnight to upload/download...what I used to do in the dark ages....


Ok for realz, J/K...


If it was me I'd smear your whole mix across some cassette or some shit and no one will ever know. Actually could probably leave it as is and it'll be your dirty little secret.
The only thing that matters is the song.
My shit is together and the impetus, even, for starting this thread.

My collaborators are apparently not sophisticated/ambitious enough, whatever, to do it right altho' I believe I am persuading 'em to start.

But that doesn't help with the already recorded material that, as stated above, cannot/will not be re-recorded.

And I agree, the music is what matters most, but I also believe that it is not all that matters. I am also considering how the material represents me as a recordist/mixer and even muso, to the extent it sounds inferior to my usual productions.
=============================

Roy, drone, IPA: 8)
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

User avatar
Gregg Juke
cryogenically thawing
Posts: 3531
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:35 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Contact:

Post by Gregg Juke » Sat May 27, 2017 1:23 pm

Vlay, there are a number of ways around it (disclaimer, using a different "stage/production name," etc.), but really, if you like the music, and think it's good enough musically to overcome any not-so-obvious sonic flaws, just go with it. It is what it is, or they'd be recording at your place under more scrutiny and different conditions. Long-distance collaborative projects are fundamentally challenging by definition.

As to the MP3/Wave thing, my experience has been that in certain situations/at times they will never line-up (one of the issues with using MP3's). That, in my opinion, is the basis for your non-canceling issues.

As far as disclaimer, I produced/co-produced/co-mastered an 80's compilation once, and we had no "master tapes," but our sources were across the board-- LP, 45, CD, cassette tape, MP3's cut-up/e-mailed/reassembled, and I think maybe a DAT tape. I wrote a "disclaimer" (but didn't call it that) in the liner notes that said something to the effect that we did the best we could based on the limitations of the source material. I guess you could do something like that if you really feel it's necessary, but as others have said, I'd just put it out there...

GJ
Gregg Juke
Nocturnal Productions Music Group
Drum! Magazine Contributor
http://MightyNoStars.com

"He's about to learn the most important lesson in the music business-- 'Never trust people in the music business.' "

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 8903
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Sat May 27, 2017 1:32 pm

Cool.

BTW, re the line-up thing, if you like, I can send you the perfectly aligned files which do cancel out before processing by inverting one and pasting it over the other.

I can make them cancel before the processing, and then fail after processing - it is definitely the processing that creates the non-cancelling issue.

Altho, it now strikes me, mebbe that's because they are stereo tracks? I'll try dual mono - report back inna few ...
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

RoyMatthews
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 778
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2005 12:07 pm
Location: Sunnyside Queens, NY

Post by RoyMatthews » Sat May 27, 2017 1:32 pm

Gregg Juke wrote: As far as disclaimer, I produced/co-produced/co-mastered an 80's compilation once, and we had no "master tapes," but our sources were across the board-- LP, 45, CD, cassette tape, MP3's cut-up/e-mailed/reassembled, and I think maybe a DAT tape. I wrote a "disclaimer" (but didn't call it that) in the liner notes that said something to the effect that we did the best we could based on the limitations of the source material. I guess you could do something like that if you really feel it's necessary, but as others have said, I'd just put it out there...

GJ
I did something similar years ago but it was a Hole covers compilation (girlfriend). I sequenced various cassette submissions on a cassette four-track and recorded the final sequence to a cassette and made cassette copies from that. No one cared. Maybe they couldn't hear anything over the hiss. I dunno. Maybe aesthetics are different nowadays.
"If there's one ironclad rule of pop history, it's this: The monkey types Hamlet only once."

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 8903
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Sat May 27, 2017 1:47 pm

GJ:

Ha!

Dual-mono tracks hit with chorus one time, one inverted, do not cancel out.

Interesting. dual-mono tracks hit with reverb, one inverted, do cancel out, no matter how many times I process with the plug (tried 5x).

Now, I'm using a stereo chorus plug, and a stereo reverb plug for the tests, but my conclusion has to be that it's the effect plug itself being a chorus, not the fact of processing in general. that's causing the non-cancellation.

So, and q.e.d, I just disproved my theory about the likelihood of audible effect of processing the MP3 vs the WAV, at least in my small test, using my DAW (CEP 2.1) and its native plugs.

That said, I do find that stability of the DAW is lessened when I mix file formats, and bit rates (can't mix sample rates) within a mix - the DAW crashes more easily.

So, color me 1/2 a doosh. :twisted:

=======================
RM:

I love me some Hole. Eh, I mean, that band, of course. :twisted:
The early stuff does lend itself more to the raw aesthetic of cassettes than the latter-day Corgan/Beinhorn-produced material (and even the PQ Kolderie-produced Live Through This, altho' that bridges them); the early stuff was indie and punkish, vs. the much more commercial later sound. I use Live Through This, BTW, to illustrate audible editing to friends.
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

User avatar
Drone
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 664
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 4:01 pm
Location: Uranus

Post by Drone » Tue May 30, 2017 6:21 am

On a whim, I once set a file to MP3, decode to WAV, re-MP3, decode, on and on. After a day or so, I had a silent file.
The previous statement is from a guy who records his own, and other projects for fun. No money is made.

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 8903
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Tue May 30, 2017 7:52 am

Sot it sounded worse until it sounded better? :twisted:
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 19 guests