I use some limiting on my bass guitars in heavy mixes.
I'll oftentimes parallel process my bass stuff to a few channels if all I'm given is a DI. One might get distortion. One might focus on adding subs. One might focus on getting pick attack. They'll all get blended back with the original bass DI.
Sometimes those subs and pick attack channels get really crazy all over the place with levels. Step on 'em with a limiter and they can get really solid and consistent to blend back in with the dynamic performance of the original DI.
I'll also limit room mics, sometimes limit the drum overheads to push the snare back into the cymbals a little, and I've found a lot of use for limiters in controlling some non-expertly-played percussion/claps stuff.
I'd say that most any hypercardioid mic will work, you just have to find the distance and angle to the right part of the head that balances everything you want from it.
Also, it's important to note that almost no professional tracking guys will allow the drummer to place his cymbals and such as close as they normally would. Get the cymbals as far from the drums and mics as the drummer can reliably play them. Even moving the cymbals a few inches can dramatically drop the bleed.
ALSO #3, Most folks who record drums regularly only use the close mics as the meat n' potatoes of the tom sound. The attack and sustain are usually from the overheads and rooms. I aggressively gate/edit my toms to little more than thumps and either add a little reverb to them to "fake" the tails, or let the compressed OH/Room sound fill them out. Then again, I'm usually doing rock/metal stuff.
These are huge points to me.
Earn some respect if possible before the drummer shows up. Show them how good your stuff can sound. Show them how pro you are. Show them you're interested and invested in them. Then, show them where their cymbals should be. Inverse square law (I'm pretty sure it's called): doubling the distance halves the volume. If you can squeeze 4-6 inches of extra space between cymbalsand the mics, you'll be in much better shape then you'd have been otherwise. Hell, I'll sacrifice some ideal tone just to get the mic a little closer to the drum head and gain another extra inch or two.
The more I do this stuff - which is a lot less than most of you other cats - the more I'm finding myself relying on room mics and overheads for drum tone and the close mics for the attack. I'm in a similar position to svart in the fact that I do a lot of rock/metal bands. So many of those bands need attack WAY MORE than they need anything else from their toms just by virtue of the tempos of the songs. The room mics can often give me the sustain and length I want. Gate that close tom shit tight and let Satan sort 'em out! ... or take some samples on each drum tracking day and drop those things underneath the existing tom hits. On the occasions where all I needed was some extra sustain, a 6db/oct low pass filter starting around 200hz gave me a good bit to work with to add in the bottom of the tom tone. Check phase, blend into a tom group (or print them together) and Bob's your uncle.
Mics I've been using lately?
I've been using the Sennheiser e604s when space is at a premium and/or when I can't trust the drummer's stick accuracy. Sometimes on the tom mounts and sometimes on stands ( stormymondays , you're crazy...but I might be, too). I give 'em a B- but, you know, I don't need someone breaking stuff in my already-small mic locker. I used some cheaper AKG LDCs (Perception 400s) a long time in the past and I think I'm going to have to try them again soon - I remember liking them but I've only got two and a lot of the drummers I've been tracking lately have mega-kits.
I've also used some Chinese SDCs on toms and got varying good/bad results. The off-axis sound is more even than on a lot of my dynamics so I was able to point it down through the tom more than straight at the center. That angle seemed to reject more cymbals than my standard dynamic mic/mic position combinations, gave me more tom body and a ton of boxy stuff that got EQ'd out (because it was pointed into the head more), but gave me decent attack because the slightly off-axis stuff still sounded good. Downside? The toms resonated a ton just by the kick and snare expressing energy in the room and, since the mic was pointed downward right near the rim, the SDCs picked up a ton of that constant ring along with a really long sustain when the drums were hit. We tuned for less ring and used moongels but the ring was still problematic. That stuff got edited out in the end so there was no real negative effect unless you were hoping to leave that tom mic bleed in. If you're a really good drum tuner, I'd say SDCs are a great way to go. In a perfect world I'd have been able to raise 'em up a little higher to lose a little of that ring but, as is often the case, the mega drum kit I was working with at the time also had a ton of brass not far above the shells and I didn't have the space to move the mics higher off the drum heads.
One of the bands I do live sound for uses the Shure Beta98A miniature condenser mics ( www.shure.com/americas/products/microphones/beta/beta-98a-miniature-cardioid-condenser-microphone ). Four toms including a 16" and 18". I'm never 1000% thrilled by the low end coming out of them but I'm always able to get something useable. A little higher self-noise than I'm excited about possibly relegates it to on-stage-only but if you loved the sound it might be worth it to scrub the tom tracks with Isotope RX to reduce the noise.
Slow day at the day job. Sorry for the long post!
Last Edit: Nov 28, 2017 17:07:16 GMT -6 by schmalzy
I've only recorded an upright once and it was for use in a sparse arrangement. It was old, wonky, out of tune, in a big warehouse-style room (not for recording), planes flying overhead, and fairly noisy in the playing. Exactly how the artist wanted it.
They wanted warts-and-all. I gave 'em warts-and-all.
I did three pairs of mics because it was a mobile thing and we were only going to get a small window to do it.
Cascade Fatheads in the room Blumlein. Too dark and we needed more closeness so those got tossed out though I liked most of the sound and would have loved to try a brighter pair of ribbons.
SDCs over the top with it open. Just didn't sound good. Too much detail for what we wanted - but we didn't have time to chase another sound and we didn't need to anyway because...
Two LDCs in Figure 8 a couple inches off the floor just on the outside the legs of the piano. We removed the bottom panel and put the mics just on the outside of the legs and pointed the mics toward them left or right thirds (left and right mics respectively) of the removed panel area. Some ambience snuck in from the back side of the mic, some stereo width (but not a ton). We tried omni first but it was too roomy and we wanted a little more warm. Figure-8 gave us some proximity and tightened the ambience up.
What came out was cool and vibey but had a limited range of use - I think mostly because the piano was so wonky and the playing was so sparse and specific. On a nice piano with a quiet and appropriately ambient room, I'd definitely try the omni LDC on the outsides of the piano. Raising and lowering would probably give you some interesting results.
Good luck! I'm sure we'd all love to hear it when it's done!
Last Edit: Nov 13, 2017 13:04:54 GMT -6 by schmalzy
I always ping at the most simple version of the analog connection: out of the out and in to the in through the patch bay.
I find that sometimes the signal coming in and out - if it gets altered by the outboard it's running through - gives me unreliable pings. When I went to pinging straight out of the converters and back in (through the patch bay) it gives me a more consistent result.
There's a ton to learn from listening to hip hop. The low end is crazy on a lot of it. Huge. How do I port that to rock/country/etc.? Can I?
Why in heaven's name would you want to inflict a rap/hip-hop style bass on a country production?
It's like putting cayenne pepper in your apple pie instead of nutmeg!
Some things are appropriate. Some things aren't. Knowing what is and what isn't is a important part of developing taste.
I wrote two semi-long responses to your comment:
One was explaining how I'm not trying to copy the technical amount/type of low end to country music but how I'm trying to take the feeling of that big, enveloping, and/or hard-hitting low end and put that feeling into other genres. I'd love to figure out how to get a country kick to make booties shake like a hip hop kick does - Billy Decker figured it out but I haven't.
The other was a bit sassy. In it I noted while your work might be good (I haven't listened and probably wouldn't understand it anyway) I often find your responses to myself and others quite off-putting. Maybe it's because I don't think you're hearing me the way I want to be heard. Maybe the exact same is true from your perspective. I'm unsure what's going on but would love to find a way around that.
In lieu of making anyone read either of those retina-burning walls of text: Thank you for your input.
There's a ton to learn from listening to hip hop. The low end is crazy on a lot of it. Huge. How do I port that to rock/country/etc.? Can I?
Also, there's a lot to learn from the vocal production itself. Lots of layers, lots of doubles, lots of "harmonies" (different articulation/voices/affectations in the rap), lots of rhythms, and lots of energy added by some non-standard-for-how-my-brain-works layering or adlibs.
I dig it, for sure. The energy and vibe of the vocal is EVERYTHING for that genre and I think that focus on vocals has reminded me of how much attention should go into the vibe of vocals in other genres, too.
The Red 16Line is really what I've been trying to find for a long time: 16 analog line ins and line outs - an additional 2 outs for monitoring - plus 16 of ins and outs on ADAT (at 48kHz - I assume you could do 8 in/out at 96kHz). Apparently you can add 32 more ins and outs via Dante if you've got an interface that'll do it (like another Red 16Line, for example).
This interface is basically saying "use me with a console."
What it whispers to me, though, is "you can track a whole band at 96kHz without a big mess of boxes and drivers all hoping to speak to each other happily." I dig that.
I do miss the Pro VLA 2, I'd like to have one back one of these days. That thing could pump and freak out in a good way sometimes, or be a little subtle and wooly with more conservative settings.
I have a Pro VLAII and I dig it.
I use it primarily on vocals and bass. I'll mult the signal out of the patch bay after the preamp. One goes to the converters and the other goes to the compressor. I'll compress 2:1-3:1, somewhere in there. 6-10 db of GR.
My goal is primarily to give the performer a more finished sound in their mix. Most of the time, though, I'll end up muting the uncompressed vocal in the mix and using the tracks that came through the VLAII.
I suppose if I had a better compressor for those sorts of sounds I'd go through that but, you know, you work with what you've got. I didn't like vocals through my Alctron 540 (GAP Comp 54 copy) and my Stam SA 4000 is pretty much dedicated to master bus duties.
Back to the OP, it's good to know the Revive Audio stuff is legit. I'm always looking at low end stuff (because that's my price bracket) and scheming on using it as it is for a while then sending it off to Revive to improve it when funds become available.
I dig the Kush plugins. I have the subscription (they are some of the few 3rd party plugins I own) and they get used a ton.
UBK-1 is a really good bus/group compressor. I often use it on vocal groups, drum groups, drum parallel, and/or bass. It's fantastic at smashing stuff up. It's also on my parallel mix bus as a saturation/smash/distortion/pumping thing. I dig it.
Hammer EQ is on my master bus. 1db at 10k does something that I don't find other places. The low end is nice, too.
Clariphonic gets used on a lot of things when I need brightness/air, etc.. I just used it on a dull, thuddy snare drum the other day. It gave me top end nothing else was giving me.
Electra gets used on percussive stuff and stuff where I need impact and/or narrow cuts. The low shelf plus HPF has been useful on low end instruments in dense mixes where I've got a lot competing for space.
Pusher gets used less but the Diode Limiter section is killer and sometimes the transient saturation/magnetization stuff is super useful and kind of the only thing that does what I want when it's the thing I need.
I'm in the middle of some mixes for an EP right now. Novatron is sneaking its way into some tracks and I'm digging what it's doing. The unlinked stereo has been great for controlling background vocal groups and rhythm guitar groups plus the saturation is helping thicken/fatten percussion stuff. It's also done a good job holding the bass in place without making it lifeless.
The Omega Transformer plugins get used for some transient shaving and some non-EQ tonal shifts. They get used on many of the individual tracks.
I'm not at the level many of you cats are at but these tools seem to be helping me make stuff happen in my world. That's the biggest endorsement I can give any tool I have.
Last Edit: Sept 29, 2017 9:05:32 GMT -6 by schmalzy
I was having a hard time with a kick drum last night. It's on a mostly rocking project (and, thus, the basic tracks - drums, bass, one rhythm guitar were laid down that way) but this song over the course of production has taken a little mellower a sound for most of the song (there's a third of it that still gets loud and dense).
Attempting to get it to be audible and come through the mix with EQ and a couple other compressors gave me something that didn't speak enough or got buried. It's like the attack-to-tone ratio wasn't coming out the right way. The attack always seemed too "RAWK" when it was audible.
Tried Novatron on a slower attack and medium release with some saturation. It seemed to calm the attack's frequency aggressiveness but made it knock harder. I tried to EQ for that sound but sounded paper-y. Using the saturation with the compression made it less paper and more knock. I think it works much better!
My situation is still evolving and trying to figure itself out. Also, my rates are pretty low. But, I set it up pretty similar to what jcoutu said:
I basically build a custom project package for each artist. I listen to them at a show/watch a video/listen to something that already exists/go to their practice/get a phone-at-rehearsal recording - whatever - so I'm informed of what they sound like and what their playing level is. I find out the number of songs and the runtime of the project (runtime is important - I had a band bring me a 9-minute song with lots of changes and needing A TON of tracks and expect it to cost the same as a 3-minute song) and figure out what I think it should take to record it.
Extrapolate that amount of recording time necessary by the hourly rate I'd like to hit: That's the flat fee for that certain amount of recording time. If they go over, there's an hourly rate attached to it. It motivates the band to make it happen on tracking day.
If I'm mixing the project, I'll shoot a flat fee for the mixes based on what I'd like to hit for my hourly rate and how long I think they'll take. Three revisions, after that there's an hourly rate for revisions. I shoot a little high on that estimate and I let the artist know it's because I'll edit as part of their mixing fees. I also have in my mind that at least half the songs are going to use the same basic mix settings. Save it as a template after the first mix like that is approved and some of the work is done. I can gain a little extra back on my rate there.
I master at a specific fee per song. It's lower if I'm mixing - I'm mixing into a stand-in mastering chain already so I have an approximation of what I'll be doing.
I've been looking at 'em both and drooling a lot lately.
I've got to stop using my eyes so much. Live mixes are relatively simple for me compared to the studio stuff - I think I attribute that to looking at/reading screens and using a mouse. I JUST WANT TO TWIST KNOBS AND PUSH FADERS DAMMIT!!!!!
Anyone find more good/bad in these things? Anyone using 'em with Reaper (my current DAW of choice but, if one of them worked extremely well with one or both those controls, I'd be willing to switch)?
Most of the instruments are organic sounds. All are played by me. Rapper is a local guy who happens to be a really decent dude so I said I'd write him a track. The female background vocals are from an eccentric indie artist in town.
For those struggling with cymbal sounds, why not overdub crashes? They're probably the easiest to fake into a recording with a couple of pencil mics and a decent reverb.
100% on this. If NOTHING else, leave the hihats out of the programmed drums and overdub the hats.
In PUNK - a thing I can't know anything about because I wasn't born yet - the hihat (and ride) is super important and really needs a little swing to feel real. Also, many other styles also rely on rhythmic subdivisions often supplied by hihats. With a damn nearly locked-to-the-downbeat kick and snare, an overdubbed hihat really helps to make it sound more real. I'd recommend overdubbing the ride as well.
I recently had to drop a ton of kick drum hits into a metal song. It changed how I'll deal with programmed drums from here-on-out.
Basically, the guy could play the fast 16th-note double-kick part PRETTY well when his kick was tuned super tight and it shot the beaters back at him. Unfortunately, his kick drum sounded awful at that tuning. Not only that, but that tighter tuning interacted with the shells a lot more and there was a ton more resonance and sympathetic ringing we weren't happy about. He wanted the kick lower, I wanted it lower, the shells wanted it lower, and - most importantly - the song wanted it lower. We tuned it down. He couldn't quite play the part still and we only had one day for a fairly djenty/rhythmically complex metal song.
So, there's a section of a song where the kicks were all dropped in by hand. I had something like 12 kick samples we had taken that day. I dropped 'em into the section in a random-esque order. It's something like 128-ish hits. It still sounded machine-gun-like.
I thought about a drummer actually playing the part. What would be happening? Some would be louder, some would be quieter. Some beater hits would bury more, some would bounce off the head more. Some would be a little behind the beat (most likely, because it's a fast-as-hell) and some would get ahead. Sure, but when?
So I went in and did some nudging. Just a few milliseconds, I think. I'd basically took sections of 4/5/6 hits - whatever - and nudge 'em off the grid by the same amount. Some of the sections that got nudged overlapped (so one or two of the first set of hits I nudged would also be in the second set of hits I nudged - a little randomness and "human" variation). Then I automated a pre-fx volume and I automated a pre-rest-of-the-fx-chain transient designer. I corresponded louder transients with the louder pre-fx volume automation. Randomly automated a hair of extra sustain from the transient designer into some of them. A couple passes doing some hand-on-trackpad automating and it sounded a lot more natural. It's still superhuman in playing but at least we don't instantly and obviously hear it.
Maybe the key to making programmed drums sound real is in that volume and transient designer automation. In some programs, just automating/redrawing the MIDI volume information will be enough to make those hits sound less identical in attack/sustain envelope. If not, that transient designer automation might do a lot of good work to get us where we need to go.
I agree. Both that record and their follow-up were killer.
Not everything on those records was as aggressive as that one, but it's all pretty schnazzy. A little more musical wandering, a little more vocals, a little more crazy drums - it's all throughout their two full-lengths.
I've had SO MANY bands come to me saying "we love this and want to sound like this." I have to tell them that, to me, it just sounds like rad musicians playing their hearts out like their lives depend on it. The sonics vary from fine to good, but the attitude and feel is overflowing. THAT's what I love most about their two records.
...one of those songs was a song by a crazy metal band called Cognizance.
Here's the song:
That's not Billy's mix, but that Cognizance track slid right into Billy's template and sounded a little like Billy but mostly like the band.
His template system really is something to behold. Buying the month on Nail The Mix is completely worth it but I suspect if you get that one month you'll probably end up in there longer term like I've been. I've been on for about a year now and my mixing has improved significantly.
Last Edit: Jul 5, 2017 11:33:13 GMT -6 by schmalzy
This was a band of young guys that came in. We tracked drums, one of the guitars, and bass live in my (basically) one-room studio. Drums were live. Bass was DI. Guitar amp was in my storage cellar two rooms away. We ended up retracking the bass as the drummer was tearing down - he thought he would be tighter when he could concentrate and listen closely. Then we did a handful of guitar overdubs, experimented with some weird stuff, and then got the vocalist to do his thing. The whole song was tracked in 11 studio hours. (14 hours total including a few breaks).
I'm not sure how much you guys listen to this genre so I figured I'd toss one your way and get an "outside the genre" set of opinions.
A couple notes:
1. Yep, the lyrics are repetitive. The artist was adamant about wanting to convey the frustration of reaching out for help over and over and never getting it. One of the ways they wanted to do that was through that repetition. There are also some really gross sounding chords to try to paint that picture, too. 2. Vocals are screamed and include some...language. Don't listen loud with your young kids. 3. Guitars are 7-strings drop-tuned to A. The bass was a 5-string drop-tuned to A as well. It's low. I tried to keep it from getting too out-of-hand in the mix. 4. Mixed ITB except the mix bus went through the line inputs of my Chameleon Labs 7602 X-Mods into the Stam SA4000.