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Author Topic: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)  (Read 5986 times)

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Offline morst

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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #30 on: October 13, 2019, 06:29:37 AM »
Drum mixing is all personal preference. I don’t like drummer perspective because I like to think I’m looking at the drummer, particularly with live recordings.  Sometimes I will mix drums off to the side, but it’s very band dependent and pretty rare. I do post work for a jazz venue that requests all their shows to be mixed as they were staged, so drums are always out house right
Under the auspices of The Soundscape Preservation Society, a concern I continue, I would say historical accuracy is prime. But with a multi track, that's all out the window. Go for the best damn mix you can make. One drummer? Kick/Snare center (or snare just slightly off to the side where the drummer has it placed) and the rest panned as wide as you'd like the drums to be. Are they mono and narrow or do they spread out all over the soundstage? I should probably not claim too much expertise in soundstage, cause I don't dig in very hard, but I'm aware that you can change it!!
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Offline mattmiller

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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #31 on: October 13, 2019, 06:51:08 PM »
I'm working through some of the recommendations (here and elsewhere) for the vocal tracks.  I'm saving EQ (to get the lead and backing vocals playing together nicely) for last.  For now, I'm addressing compressing and limiting (in that order).  A couple questions:

1.  Am I overlooking a way to know/observe the outcome of the compressor so that I can use that to determine what peaks remain to be limited away?  Or do I need to render these tracks individually for the purpose of inspecting the resulting waveform and deciding on where to limit it?

The keyboard, drum, and stage right vocal tracks contain only vocals (plus ambiance).  However, the lead vocals also contains a harmonica on one song, a kazoo on part of another song, and the last song of the night is all three band members singing and playing into it (tambourine, accordion, plus three vocals).  Meanwhile, the stage left vocal track is, for the most part, the bass vocals (when the keyboard player switches to bass for about 1/3 of the songs).  However, like any good combination keyboard and bass player, right in the middle of the show he drags a tuba from off the side of the stage and plays it into this mic.  See waveform here:

https://imgur.com/XFzGdOA

Most of the waveform is just room ambiance while he's playing keyboard.  Most of the peaks are his vocals while playing bass (these dynamics seem tailor-made for the compressor and limiter).  Right in the middle is the tuba. 

2.  How does the presence of non-vocal parts impact the way that I should be treating these dominantly vocal tracks?
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Offline EmRR

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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #32 on: October 13, 2019, 10:23:34 PM »
EQ will change the behavior of compression.  You want to do that the other way round IMO. 
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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2019, 03:10:13 PM »

I've only done a few multitracks of live shows (more than 4 inputs) and I agree with the comment above that it's a personal preference and would do whatever sounds best. I like to mix the snare, hihat and kick center then pan the overheads.

I've been doing a lot of stagelip plus sbd recordings of Johnny Vidacovich lately and his kit is always stage left. I put the mics on the stagelip off center to stage right and orient them to cover the kit. This gives good stereo coverage and keeps the image like it was live while also covering the entire stage.

If you have individual mics on the toms you might want to pan them a little but to be honest if I have overheads and they sound decent I never use the tom mics. It's not a Rush show.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #34 on: October 16, 2019, 05:37:49 PM »
EQ will change the behavior of compression.  You want to do that the other way round IMO.

I'm in agreement with this, generally. I like to get EQ in the ballpark prior to wrangling too much with dynamics.  Then I approach it iteratively, going back to check how things may have changed, and converging toward an optimal solution. The last thing I typically do is touch up the master output bus EQ.

For both EQ and dynamics I find it helpful to break the tasks into different stages which address different aspects.  Early on, basic gross EQ and dynamic corrections are made.  Later, subtle fine-tuning takes place.  And with respect to dynamics there is also the contrast between high level peak dynamic management on one hand and lower level average loudness management on the other - two very different things.
Simplified, consider the differences between limiting vs parallel comp.

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Offline morst

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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #35 on: October 17, 2019, 02:09:26 PM »
I'm working through some of the recommendations (here and elsewhere) for the vocal tracks.  I'm saving EQ (to get the lead and backing vocals playing together nicely) for last.  For now, I'm addressing compressing and limiting (in that order).  A couple questions:
1.  Am I overlooking a way to know/observe the outcome of the compressor so that I can use that to determine what peaks remain to be limited away?  Or do I need to render these tracks individually for the purpose of inspecting the resulting waveform and deciding on where to limit it?

The sort of sideways answer to your question 1 is... drumroll... EQ! It's not that will let you observe so much as control the outcome. EQ in a signal chain before compression allows you to select what frequency bands will trigger the compressor. (whatever has hot enough signal levels to hit the threshold and trigger the comp)
This can be done on a side chain, if you don't want those frequencies to actually be boosted. EQ the side chain feed to trigger the comp where you want but EQ the actual signal differently, or not at all!?


As for tracks with lots of things in them- you COULD copy the track and delete all the vocals from the kazoo one, and delete all the kazoo from the vocal one... if that's possible, and process them differently. Or not worry about it and see how far you get with that approach?
« Last Edit: October 17, 2019, 02:19:28 PM by morst »
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Offline mattmiller

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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #36 on: October 19, 2019, 01:09:57 PM »
If anybody has an interest in critiquing a song as I currently have it processed/mixed, I'd be interested to know if I'm way off base on anything.  Obviously everybody's taste is different, but I'm looking for gross negligence -- things that everybody can agree need adjusting.  I've posted it here in uncompressed 24/48 .wav format:

https://soundcloud.com/user1965380/milwaukee/s-Mrtwq

This song contains acoustic guitar, drums, and two different keys (melody and bass, respectively).  It's their longest song because it always contains an improvisational spoken part in the middle.  I thought maybe the variety would make it a good song to critique.

Some things I've done:

EQ to the kick tracks (bussed)
EQ and light compression to the snare tracks (bussed)
EQ to the hat
fairly sizable high pass on the OHs, but then lowered these in the mix relative to the newly-treated kick/snare/hat
Nothing to the toms
Nothing to the ride
Nothing to the acoustic guitar
Light compression/limiting on the keys was because of this song, where they get a little loud at the end
No other processing of the keys (amp sims, etc)
All vox rolled off at 50 Hz, de-esser, and light compression and reverb
No additional processing of the master track

I've turned off the center audience mic because it's placed right over the stage monitor and is pretty polluted from that.  I've got the others panned fairly wide.  I've been playing with fading up the center AUD mic only between songs (or otherwise when it's mostly pure AUD sound), and I've liked the result of that.  Is there any technical reason not to do this?  I didn't do that on this mixdown, as I haven't started playing with envelopes yet.  I'm simply playing with fading it up while monitoring in real-time.
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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #37 on: October 19, 2019, 08:08:51 PM »

This sounds good! The only thing that jumps out at me is that the waveform appears to have a taller (asymmetrical) "top part" - that is, the positive excursion seems to have a greater absolute value than the negative excursion.
There could be a number of different reasons for this, it might be unimportant, but you might take a glance at the individual tracks, and see if there are more than one with "tall top parts" and consider flipping polarity on one or more of them? Just to get more "area under the curve" if possible. (it will use the amplifiers more efficiently and thus might have a bit better signal:noise)
edit: OK made it to the end. #skintags <- ew
I don't think you need quite that much piano at the very end, though there may not be much else to mix. We know it's a piano solo. He said "play your piano" or whatever. It's ok, it just seems like a dry SBD at that (singular) point in the show.
edit2: >I've been playing with fading up the center AUD mic only between songs (or otherwise when it's mostly pure AUD sound), and I've liked the result of that.  Is there any technical reason not to do this?
Nope, just be sure that it sounds natural. Check your fades in headphones and on speakers and don't be afraid to fade in before the end of the song if the band is blowing it out.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2019, 08:18:35 PM by morst »
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Offline mattmiller

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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #38 on: October 19, 2019, 09:40:03 PM »
Thanks for taking the time to listen to it.  I feel better knowing that it's not an absolute mess to somebody's ears that are more tuned than mine to this kind of work.

The only thing that jumps out at me is that the waveform appears to have a taller (asymmetrical) "top part" - that is, the positive excursion seems to have a greater absolute value than the negative excursion.

I noticed that it looked that way on the Soundcloud representation of the waveform, but it looks normal to me when I open it in anything else.  Is the Soundcloud waveform supposed to mean anything?

https://imgur.com/1Smq6nA

I don't think you need quite that much piano at the very end, though there may not be much else to mix. We know it's a piano solo. He said "play your piano" or whatever. It's ok, it just seems like a dry SBD at that (singular) point in the show.

I was hoping that the little bit of compression and limiting that I applied would have tamed that a little better.  Perhaps I just need to envelope that down a little bit.
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Offline opsopcopolis

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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #39 on: October 20, 2019, 08:46:54 PM »
Agreed about the piano. Usually when I'm mixing a show I'll basically play through and do a live 'mix' of it, riding automation levels as if they're faders on a console.

Personally I think it could use some less overheads and more drums in general. I felt like the snare got lost in the acoustic a bit. Might be able to fix that by carving a little bit out of the gtr. I think it could also benefit from a bit more 'cohesion' between the different tracks. It's a hard time to accomplish, but is sometimes helped by sending everything through the same processing, whether that be a little bit of the same room verb on all the instruments, a little bit of master bus compression, or something else, it depends on the tape
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Offline mattmiller

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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #40 on: October 20, 2019, 10:11:33 PM »
Agreed about the piano. Usually when I'm mixing a show I'll basically play through and do a live 'mix' of it, riding automation levels as if they're faders on a console.

This is my planned strategy.  My goal is to come up with good baseline levels for the majority of the show, from which I can automate levels up and down as needed.

Personally I think it could use some less overheads and more drums in general. I felt like the snare got lost in the acoustic a bit. Might be able to fix that by carving a little bit out of the gtr. I think it could also benefit from a bit more 'cohesion' between the different tracks. It's a hard time to accomplish, but is sometimes helped by sending everything through the same processing, whether that be a little bit of the same room verb on all the instruments, a little bit of master bus compression, or something else, it depends on the tape

I'm surprised (but don't doubt, given your experience) that you can hear the drum overheads, as they average in the -30s on that song and only peak around -18db.  One of the things that I've read a lot about, but have struggled to implement to this point, is the whole idea of carving out frequencies to let certain instruments shine.  For example, the kick drum vs. the bass guitar.  I haven't been able to identify to my satisfaction the right place to boost/cut either of them in order to give them their own little frequency space to dominate.  Same thing with lead vs. backing vocals, and I assume the snare/acoustic conflict you hear would be resolved similarly by a professional.
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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #41 on: October 21, 2019, 12:24:29 AM »

One of the things that I've read a lot about, but have struggled to implement to this point, is the whole idea of carving out frequencies to let certain instruments shine.  For example, the kick drum vs. the bass guitar
Well I know that one, roll the very lows out of the kick so the bass guitar doesn't get stepped on. But in general I'd just make certain each instrument sounds good on its own, and try not to EQ more than necessary.


>Is the Soundcloud waveform supposed to mean anything?
No idea, I've never posted there.
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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #42 on: October 21, 2019, 11:51:44 AM »
Sounds good here.  Nice work.

What caught my ear on first listen: Acoustic guitar and keys are a bit dry at some points (sounding somewhat "soundboardy"), and drums are a bit low/distant at some points. I imagine the drum presence, sense of proximity and detail would respond really well to some parallel comp.  EQ seems good, even though I'm not using headphones I trust to really assess that kind of thing. The audience sound is good, and I see no reason not to ride the center audience mic during the breaks if you like, especially when it works nicely like it does here to increase the feel of live realism.  I sometimes do something similar with my rear-facing audience/room pair.  The sort of baseline essense of the recorded audience and room ambience is picked up by my hard-panned wide omnis.  To that I'll add some center-rear-facing mic or a stereo-pair of rear facing mics to sort of more evenly fill the ambient space between those hard-panned positions.  Those channels are generally lower in level and respond well to manual envelope or side-chain control to brings them up in level during quieter sections and between songs. 
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Offline mattmiller

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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #43 on: October 21, 2019, 12:57:07 PM »
Sounds good here.  Nice work.

What caught my ear on first listen: Acoustic guitar and keys are a bit dry at some points (sounding somewhat "soundboardy"), and drums are a bit low/distant at some points. I imagine the drum presence, sense of proximity and detail would respond really well to some parallel comp.  EQ seems good, even though I'm not using headphones I trust to really assess that kind of thing. The audience sound is good, and I see no reason not to ride the center audience mic during the breaks if you like, especially when it works nicely like it does here to increase the feel of live realism.  I sometimes do something similar with my rear-facing audience/room pair.  The sort of baseline essense of the recorded audience and room ambience is picked up by my hard-panned wide omnis.  To that I'll add some center-rear-facing mic or a stereo-pair of rear facing mics to sort of more evenly fill the ambient space between those hard-panned positions.  Those channels are generally lower in level and respond well to manual envelope or side-chain control to brings them up in level during quieter sections and between songs.

Thanks for your time.  Actually, one of the things I've done since I uploaded that sample (in addition to boosting the snare and the entire drum bus a bit) was to discover the "Guitar Suite" of effects in Audition.  I've started playing with just a little bit of a warm amp sim on the acoustic.  I'm still in the process of dialing it up and down to see where I like it.  The next task is to hopefully discover a similar amp sim suitable for the keyboard tracks, and I was also going to experiment with the bass to see if there's something I can apply to the DI track that is more pleasing than the mic track I have for that one.  Anybody have any recommended free plugins I should try, either for the keys (which may not be available in Audition natively...still need to search) or in place of the Guitar Suite I'm currently playing with?
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Re: Mixing Multi-Track Recording (29 Tracks)
« Reply #44 on: October 21, 2019, 03:28:33 PM »
I don't have any specific plugin suggestions, but some kind of amp or acoustic guitar sim plugin sweetening could be just the thing well on the guitar. I hear the classic "directly plugged in dry piezo-pickup quack", which is so common it's become a sort of widely recognized live acoustic guitar sound some folks actually prefer, yet it always sounds like a piezo to me.  A touch of 'verb might help as well, maybe something like a plate verb with the lows cut to it. 

In terms of dry/wet verbish-ness, I think it helps to listen to the entire mix while directing attention to each instrument individually, determining if they all seem to inhabit the same imaginary acoustic space.  That's not to say some things shouldn't be drier clearer and perceptually closer sounding while and others are more 'verby and perceptually distant, or that they should all sound spatially similar in isolation, rather that they all have some discernible sense of spatial commonality.  It's hard to describe this, but it's something that sort of helps to glue all the parts together in such a way that it isn't perceived as a multi-track mix of close-mics but rather a perfectly balanced AUD.

BTW the piano push at the end sounds appropriate to me in terms of it's loudness and timbre, but the lead and bg vox portion leading up to it after the quiet section is buried somewhat and could use some comp or a bit of bump in level.
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