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Author Topic: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?  (Read 1012 times)

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Offline adrianf74

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What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« on: November 12, 2021, 11:53:16 AM »
Was at a small room show which was a single acoustic guitar with one mic.  Naturally, the soundboard output was mono (it's a small room). Also recorded was room sound but it's very wookified and doesn't add much since there's nothing not being fed to the sound system.

Two separate recorders were used so there will be clock drift. My general thought is to fade the crowd in and out between sons or wherever else it's required.

What to do with the board feed?  I'm going to Deplosive or Declip in iZotope where they occurred (3 or 4 times). Plan to boost any banter between songs but should any simulated stereo or other such effects be added to liven it up?

Thanks everyone.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2021, 12:20:37 PM »
Inclusion of some room sound will be helpful in placing the performer in the same apparent acoustic space as the audience between songs, and in adding some depth dimension and room to the otherwise dry, upfront and in-your-face monophonic soundboard recording.  You may want to ride the AUD room pair levels if there is a lot of distracting chatter during the performance sections.  But this is probably what you've already planned on doing.

It may help to add a touch of artificial stereo room reverb to the soundboard.  That can help with the blend and make riding of the AUD level less obvious.  And if the wookieness is just too much that might end up doing most of the work in getting the SBD to sound like it is more naturally "in and of the room".  The trick will be to find the right room reverb algorithm and settings to get the artificial 'verb sounding similar to that of a performance in that actual room without the audience noise.  Even if you nail that really well, I'd probably not mute the AUD entirely but just reduce it a lot in level during the music, since it will add a subtle human liveness that even a perfectly tuned and great sounding room reverb will not.

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Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2021, 12:22:02 PM »
Everyone has varied paths here, but I often do this with a mono SBD/AUD mic mix:
keep the SBD mono and add it in "below" the level of the AUD, almost as a centering filler.
In Audacity, I will ensure the LT/RT tracks are 'mono'd, then import the AUD track, adjusting each pair's levels to be similar.
Playing around with the relationship of SBD/mono vs AUD/stereo to suit your ears. (Generally, it comes out like 25-30% sbd in these cases) ymmv
Than I will export the multi-channel mix to a 2 channel mix and do EQ, Compression, limiting, levelling.

Others should have varying ideas.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2021, 04:19:15 PM »
I'm 100% onboard with Kyle's methodology regarding the majority of AUD/SBD mixes - That is, using the AUD as the primary source and adding just enough SBD, at a significantly lower level, to sweeten vocals and sense of presence as necessary, generally without otherwise processing the mono SBD.  To my taste, many AUD/SBD mixes tend to lean too heavily on the SBD and don't sound as natural as they could/should with a bit more room in there.  That's probably because a taper can't help but focus on the annoying audience chatter portion of a recording (which easily leads to overcompensation with too much SBD), while the same is easier to ignore by other listeners who tend to be more focused on the music rather than the more technical aspects of the recording.

However, for a recording where the AUD portion contains mostly cocktail party chatter and very little sound of primary interest, you'll need way more SBD relative to AUD.  That's when it might help to add a touch of room 'verb to the SBD portion to keep it from sounding flat, sterile, and overly close.  Will generally be best to add the 'verb to the SBD part prior to mixing that with the AUD.. but you can also add most of it SBD and a touch to the overall mix of the two to help blend the two sources and hide the level riding of the AUD a bit better.  Tread lightly though, and double check with a fresh listen later.  The added reverb shouldn't be obvious except in its absence.  It's easy to go overboard.

Even if the AUD is almost all chatter, I think you should keep some small amount of it in there as mentioned previously to improve continuity.  Think Marvin Gaye, What's Goin' On>What's Happening, Brother

https://youtu.be/Y9KC7uhMY9s
^Not the LP version with all the cool background party chatter I intended to link, but an outstanding extended live version with James Jamerson sitting next to Marvin!

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Offline nulldogmas

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2021, 04:52:25 PM »
Rent out the venue, fill it with silent people, play the SBD through the PA, and use mics to record that. Problem solved.

Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2021, 06:21:15 PM »
Sorry:
Quote
it's very wookified
I missed that. As with all things, ymmv. I'd now go with the added reverb thing or possibly a pseudo stereo mix.
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Offline adrianf74

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2021, 06:22:31 PM »
Thanks Rocksuitcase and, as always, Gutbucket.

This is a very difficult one to wrap my head around.  I'm usually VERY good at pretty much knowing the exact direction I'm going to take with the given elements but appreciate the feedback from both of you.

What Rocksuitcase said is one of the ways I usually go about this.  Depending on the level of wookiness at a show, the amount of soundboard to audience can vary but I usually try and keep it no more than 50/50.  There are times where I've had to almost take out the audience because of unruliness -- this happened to me once at a show by a really well-known artist who allows me to record his shows with the understanding that they don't get released.  During one track, I had to fade the audience to almost nothing in order to get rid of the distraction.  I ended up using some generic audience noise I had to "fill the hole" but it wasn't ideal.  Great show, great performance, great mix (properly mixed for playback rather than what the venue hears), but the ass-hat killed it.

This show I'm working on is most different than anything I've dealt with before.  The two recorders being used (both Sony but an (1) A and (1) M) will have to be brought closer together as there is drift.  Then there's the other issue at hand which is a guy yelling off his rocker sitting about 10 feet next to the audience mics.  There were other times where him and his group were chatting incessantly.  This show as a very intimate setting with about 50 people in a small room where the stage was maybe 30-40 feet from the doors.  The stage mic picks this guy up, even, albeit relatively quiet compared to the artist. 

So, this is more the case of the cocktail party chatter if it weren't for this guy.  Reverb was added to the vocals, naturally, so maybe adding a little more to the overall mix will help.  The point of what you raise with the Marvin clip is pretty neat.  I'm used to the "chatter version" from the LP but what I'm trying to avoid with the final mix here is something that doesn't sound like I'm removing parts of the audience mix intentionally which will sound the case if I drop it out completely at points.  I know I have my work cut out on this.

And before I forget, Nulldogmas' suggestion was perfect -- if only that were a possibility.  People in my town are, generally, pretty far from silent.

Thanks everyone.
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Offline relefunt

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2021, 07:13:50 PM »
Is there a DeWooker plugin for iZotope?
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Offline adrianf74

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2021, 07:14:30 PM »
Is there a DeWooker plugin for izotope?
If only...
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Offline hoserama

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2021, 10:51:50 AM »
Here's how I would attack it:

1. Run the soundboard through the music rebalancer in Izotope RX, split to vocals + everything else. Mix them as independent stems
2. Align the audience recording to the soundboard
3. Clean up the AUD in Izotope RX...zap particularly intrusive crowd noise
4. Load everything up in a DAW. Mix to flavor.
5. For SBD vocals extraction, likely bit of EQ + limiter + reverb
6. For SBD guitar/other, likely bit of EQ + spatializer for depth
7. Get a good sounding soundboard feel, then start mixing in the aud
8. Likely roll off a bit of low-end from the AUD to remove mud but depends on how the AUD sounds. I would keep the AUD at a basic nominal level so it sits a bit underneath the sbd. Then automate the AUD higher between songs. You could do a sidechain compression and tie it to the vocals so you get a few DB of ducking whenever there's vocal chatter between songs.
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Offline nassau73

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2021, 11:54:45 AM »
You also might try playing around with the Adobe Audition 3.0 plugin - Binaural Audio Panner

Offline checht

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2021, 09:13:39 PM »
Concur with Hoserama. Just gotta resign yourself to spending quite a while in spectral repair.

Appreciate the distinction between our tendency to focus on things in the recording that are distractions vs everyone else who listens past that stuff and enjoys the recording.

I have developed less tolerance for wookiness and that impacts a lot of things. Cap selection, post production workflow, general grumpiness.

Also, current crowds are different. When I listen to a mid 80's recording fob dfc 'section', it's almost devoid of wook.

Especially outdoors, just so sweet. Greeks, Frost, Rocks. Sigh.
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Offline wforwumbo

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2021, 11:08:03 PM »
Well the good news is, you have multiple stems to play with. Having your stereo mic’d room pair plus the SBD means you’ve got a better chance of getting the end product you want.

I would suggest you first consider and concretely define what it is you want to accomplish. I can’t tell you what sounds best, only you can. And I can’t tell you what the “right” way to do something is, either - how much adjustment to make to levels, plug-ins, etc. I further could not tell you what the preferred workload is. All I, or any of us, can suggest is what works best for us. To wit, I encourage you to experiment with as many techniques as possible til you are happy.

What I CAN suggest, is insight into what works for me w/r/t the process at large.

Generally, the question I ask is “what did I think the music sounded like in the moment, and given all recordings I have on hand what is the best way for me to let my recording get out of the way between me and enjoying the music?”

Do you think the aud generally sounds great, but wish you could add a touch of definition or clarity? That’s where Kyle’s method *shines* - get your room pair generally sounding balanced to taste, then use the SBD at very low levels (I generally set the SBD 20-30 dB below my mains pairs when I do this).

It’s worth identifying the distinction between what I will call the “dry” mono sound board and your stereo AUD mics. Your AUD has something the sound board does not - a room. Reflections massively influence your perception of a space, and those reflections do a lot of things to help you localize a mono sound source. Your mono SBD is being pumped through a set of filters - an amplifier, then a speaker, then the greater room impacts. Most of those can be generally compensated (the amp + speaker), but a room is a different beast that’s crazy hard to model. This was actually the origins of reverb algorithms in the mid-late 70s: David Griesinger was a recording engineer and had stereo mains of a piano/violin/cello trio, as well as close mics of all 3. He loved the mains but didn’t hear enough cello; so he went to add the close mic cello, but it didn’t blend with the other instruments in the mains - it was too immediate and direct. He also happened to be incredibly intelligent and the senior engineer at a company called Lexicon, so he researched and created the first concert hall algorithms in DSP. All this to say, Gutbucket’s suggestion of adding a room reverb to the mono sound board is a great way to “stereoize/spatialize” a dry mono SBD recording, especially one with so few musical elements likely played in dual mono over two PAs in a room. If you configure the reverb algorithm right (“size” and “decay” controls), you should be able to get both pretty close.

If you think the SBD sounds great but could use more “immersion” or “space” - the mythical realism of being in the crowd - you could set the dry mono SBD board on its own, and then slowly and quietly bring up the AUD underneath it until the blend sounds good. This is treating the AUD as your “reverberation algorithm”, and if you can get the blend of wet/dry right you can find some good results there too.

iZotope can be a magical tool, but I find it generally ends up being used to polish a less than stellar recording. I’ve heard a lot of tapers here use it to great effect, and I come from a studio production world where it does wonders for restoration work especially, but the DSP engineer in me cries every time I think about what iZotope does to the phase response of any recording. This to say, it’s not a tool I find comfortable or intuitive to use for my own work, but that’s not a commentary on if it’s a good tool or if it’s the right tool for you.

Avoid a binaural audio planner. All it’ll do is induce a head related transfer function, which artificially adds ITDs/ILDs (directional cues based on interaural time and level differences) that don’t exist in the recording and cannot be undone losslessly. And additionally, it adds those cues on top of your headphones or stereo, which themselves induce even more cues for your brain. I’d also avoid any ambisonic encoders, on a mono source it’s just fancifying mid-side encoding that will permanently distort your phase response.

To the meta-commentary on trying to clean up a recording in general… I’ll comment that this is why the most important microphone in my locker is my hypercardioids. I don’t love how they sound, and while I can enjoy recordings made with them I find myself not loving them the way I do my other microphones. But the hypers are a tool - if I’m in a chatty crowd, or a less than ideal location, I know they’ll always make a listenable recording with minimal possible wookery, and if I deploy them right I can do away with “room boom” in the bass and “haze” that too strong of reflections from the back of a hockey rink will bring me. I think my cardioids make much better recordings in general that I consistently truly love, and my subcards in the right spot sound sublime. But I reach for my hypers first, they’re what I prioritize running if I can only have one pair in a compromised spot, and I am always happy I have *a* clean recording when my other mics turn out too chatty. All this to say, I encourage you to prioritize grabbing a pair of hypers.

Addendum edit: it is crucial you get all your recordings time aligned if you’re going to mix them down. You will be in phase hell if you do not. And if that’s too much work, it might be worthwhile just to post the sbd and aud as individual releases, allowing your listeners to choose which recording they’d rather hear - it prevents any permanent phase destruction in either recording.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2021, 11:13:04 PM by wforwumbo »
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Offline morst

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2021, 06:17:07 PM »
Addendum edit: it is crucial you get all your recordings time aligned if you’re going to mix them down. You will be in phase hell if you do not. And if that’s too much work, it might be worthwhile just to post the sbd and aud as individual releases, allowing your listeners to choose which recording they’d rather hear - it prevents any permanent phase destruction in either recording.
I agree with the first part of this, but experientially disagree with the second part.
Yes, it's very important to get the clocks synced up from separate recorders, and it's very important to control the delay between stage mic (SBD) sources and distant mics (out at FoH for instance.)
But I feel that you just have to get them close, and don't be afraid of phase hell.
Maybe I'm just too deaf about 10kHz to realize that I'm putting listeners through hell, but I have not been getting complaints.


In my experience, trying to get two sources with separate clocks to line up perfectly is nearly impossible with temperature and pressure changes let alone the elusive clock jitter!?
I line up the start and finish of my files, interpolate, and let the chips fall where they may in between those two points.
I do double check that the middle sections are reasonable close, as something like a data gap can throw things WAY off. 
Even for tracks recorded on the same clock, there are still variations to the distance correction based on atmospheric conditions...

Yes, theoretically, you will get all kinds of weird artifacts like comb filtering if you have mismatched phase, but it's not something I can hear.
I bet my buddy digitalist0ne would disagree emphatically with me, but I can't hear what he is hearing.

Offline kuba e

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Re: What to do with Mono soundboard used as bulk of mix?
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2021, 03:58:27 AM »
I think Wforwumbo meant to align the recordings within a certain range. If I remember correctly, our hearing can tolerate a shift of up to about 20-25 ms. Our brain does not distinguish it and takes it as one sound. When the shift is greater, our brain processes it as two separate sounds. When we are out of this range, the matrix will sound unphased. I don't think there will be significant comb filtering. Sbd and aud are different enough signals. But for our hearing it will be confusing. It will sound like an echo, losing clarity and precision.

In my experience, when sbd is slightly shifted forward in front of the aud, the sbd is more pronounced in the mix and the aud is more in the background. And conversely. It's like changing the levels of sbd and aud, but it has a slightly different sound effect. These are delicate things. When making the matrix, I proceed as follows. First I set the correct alignment of sbd and aud, as nicely described by Morst. Then I set the optimal levels of sbd and aud. And finally, I try a slight shift forward and backward, eg +-5 ms. Alternatively, I can fine-retune the levels in the end.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2021, 09:21:36 AM by kuba e »

 

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