Posts Tagged ‘frequency’

The Mix was an intense process. Without many instruments we had to create a full sound. With the help of Logic 9, I think it went pretty well.

All songs were recorded in the one session and each instrument had the same track for each song, so these settings were applied to all songs, then split off and minor tweaks were made (most of which probably won’t be mentioned because they’re not really very interesting.) Sam wanted his EP sound to be really consistent so we decided doing it like this would be a fun, challenging and interesting approach.

I started mixing the first song, which was probably the thinnest of the lot with nothing but guitars and vox. It’s quite an intense and raw song and I wanted the EP to start strong. I started with the guitars and did the usual pan each mic to either side, high pass and low pass EQ to keep out sounds not in the frequency range, some low mid cuts and a slight high mid boost to eliminate any masking, compressor and a noise gate. This got it sounding pretty good, but after mixing everything else the guitar just seemed to not… sit right, it was just a little overpowering in the high mids, so I decided to do something I tried in a different mix. I put a stereo spreader on both guitar mic tracks and spread the upper mids a little, order 11 for one and 12 for the other so the same frequencies weren’t being spread on either side. Being already panned to one side, this pushed some of those frequencies just a little closer to the middle, widening it at the loss of some of its power, perfect!

 

On the left we have the left guitar mic and its plugins, on the right, the right!

 

The vocals were a lot more simple, just a matter of EQ, compression, noise gate, and a tinyyyyyyy little bit of delay.

 

Now the lead guitar was interesting, for the electric lead solos we had 2 mics, one dead on and one to the side, so I panned them to show this. This sat the guitar slightly to one side but still gave a nice full sound, almost like if a band were playing and the guitarist had come up to do a solo and was standing just to the right of the singer.

Here you can see the centered mic on the left and the panned right mic on the right, as well as the EQ, compression, noise gate and delay decisions I made.

Next was the acoustic guitar solos, there wasn’t really anything special done here, it was recorded with a single mic so I opted against any crazy stereo imaging, quite a decent amount of EQ and delay, and more compression than I normally try to use, then a good ol noise gate.

 

The only other major instrument recorded was the double bass, once again a pretty simple process, decided to go for some more creative EQ to try and keep the clarity of the double bass whilst removing resonances and fixing some masking problems.

 

There were some other instruments used, including an egg shaker, a MIDI glockenspiel, a MIDI kick drum and some whistling, but I opted against doing those ones as they were very simple processes, but if anyone is interested let me know and I’ll show you how I did them, or help as best I can with mixing those instruments.

The final part of the mix was the reverb, this was done by setting up an auxiliary channel strip and putting the space designer reverb on it, then bussing all tracks to it. I don’t know very much about designing reverbs, in reality or in plugins, but I found the preset my ears agreed with most was the small booth reverb. It just sounded right and fitted the style perfectly.

I also used a concert hall reverb on the vocal echoes in the first song, ‘Heaven’.

If anyone has any advice for my mixing process for future mixes, please don’t hesitate to send it my way!

Also, please look up Sam Luff on facebook! or soon iTunes! He will be extremely grateful and is very much worth your time!

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Build a Triffusor

Materials (per triffusor):

  • 2x equilaterally triangular pieces of MDF wood
  • 2x rectangular pieces of MDF wood (width same as trianglar side)
  • 1x rectangular piece of MDF wood slightly shorter and thinner than other pieces
  • Acoustic foam rectangle the size of the 2 larger pieces of MDF wood
  • 5 long thin pieces of any kind of wood to be placed on one side for diffusion
  • A decent number of screws and some PVA glue (and some contact glue, though PVA will work)
  • Saw(s) and miter box (if cutting any of the wood yourself)
  • (Optional) beading for the edges

Process:

Attached larger pieces of MDF wood to two sides of one of the triangle. PVA glued, and then screwed them together.  Attached other triangle to other end of the rectangular MDF wood in the same way.

Used contact glue to attach acoustic foam to one side of the triangular prism.

Put smaller wood rectangle where third side of triangle would go and push it in so that it sits further back than the other sides.

Place long thin strips of wood against the side with the deeper wall and glue

Acoustic Properties:

–       Reflective side: The reflective side is smooth wood, allowing the sound to bounce off easily, creating direct reflections.

–       Absorptive side: The side with the acoustic foam is designed to absorb sound. When the sound hits the acoustic foam it enters any tiny gaps in the foam and bounces around inside it so many times that barely any of the sound manages to get reflected, most of it dies within the foam.

–       Diffusive side: The side with the further back wood and strips of thin wood running up and down it is designed to diffuse any sound that hits it. Either before or after the sound hits the back panel, much of it will reflect off the strips causing it to be reflecting off to the sides, known as being ‘diffused’, often used to stop early reflections from causing phase cancelation without killing the reflections all together and risking deadening the room too much.

Personal Uses:

  1. In parts of my room there are cupboards and dressers that would cause unusual reflections, reflective side could be placed in front of these to give more direct reflections.
  2. Diffusive or absorptive side could be placed at the back of my room where the first direct reflections would occur to send them in different directions of absorb them to reduce possible comb filtering in the listening position.
  3. Absorptive side could be placed facing out of the corners and be used as a bass trap.

Evaluation: Overall, each of the triffusor’s sides has the acoustic properties they were designed to have, and the triffusor itself is very sturdy and solid. If building more, the only thing I would do differently is take more time perfecting some of the measurements in attempt to get that really neat and tidy, professional look.

A synth is created through tone generation, manipulation, and amplification.

Generation:

A basic synth will often have a single oscillator (the generator) with the ability to generate some kind of sound wave, the most common being the square, saw, triangle and sine waves.

To start building a synth sound, first select your wave. The square wave has quite a ‘woody’ sort of sound, and is often good for bass synths, the saw wave is quite sharp and a common lead synth wave, the triangle wave sounds similar to the square wave but a bit more dull and harmonically weaker and the sine wave is very pure and lifeless. This is because the shape of the other waves creates harmonics, and if you were to filter out the frequencies around the note you were playing you would end up with something that sounds like a sine wave anyway.

These waves are often not the only choices, many synths offer you the choice of combining two waves, and some synths offer you noise waves, or even the ability to create your own wave shape.

So depending on your synth, these are your choices… for one oscillator. Very often synths will have multiple oscillators, giving you the ability to layer sounds on top of each other, and blend the volumes for an even or one sided combination, as well as a pitch control (often used to put an oscillator up or down and octave, but sometimes used for different intervals, be careful with using intervals other than an octave, it might sound cool at first but it could create problems in the harmonic progression of your song.) Individual detune controls are often available to add some crunch by putting oscillators slightly out of tune with each other.

Many synths also allow you to choose how many unison voices the synth has, which essentially means the synth adds multiple copies of itself onto itself, this is a great way to create a really huge sound, but don’t get carried away or you won’t leave any space in your mix for anything else!

If you’re just starting out I suggest you just use one or two oscillators, and stick with basic wave shapes, one of my favourite sounds is 2-3 oscillators all set to a basic saw wave. Which sounds kind of boring, but here’s where it gets more interesting.

Manipulation:

The first manipulator is the ADSR envelope (an envelope is where the signal passes through to be manipulated, feel free to call it the manipulator thing.) This stands for Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release.

The attack is how long it takes for the synth to go from no volume to peak volume

The decay is how long it takes to go from peak volume to sustain volume

The sustain is the volume from the end of the decay period to until the note you’re playing is released

And the release is the time taken for the sound to reach silence after the note is released

This is best shown using this graph:

Slow attack and release times are most common in pads to allow the chord to swell up and fade away.

Decay and release are only experimented with excessively for more unusual kinds of sounds.

The next manipulators are the filter and resonance:

The filter is used to roll of frequencies above a certain point, sometimes you are given control of how fast they roll off as well. This is often used to filter out unwanted harmonics or if the high frequencies are masking another sound in the mix and you feel you don’t need them. Another common use for it is to have the filter set low and automate it to open up gradually, allowing the synth to grow and fill out the audio spectrum. If you don’t know how to automate, leave a comment and I’ll do a post on it as I won’t be going into that in this post.

The resonance is a control to create a resonance at a certain frequency, making it more prominent in the sound. This is often used to create a bigger bass sound or to emphasise some interesting harmonics in lead sounds.

Other manipulators are –

The LFO: This stands for ‘Low Frequency Oscillator,’ but it doesn’t generate sound, however it is still a waveform, this waveform is just used to control other aspects of the synth. A common use is to have it control the volume on a bass synth so that the volume fluctuates at the rate the wave is set to, the wave is then often synced to the song tempo, and there we have… WUB WUB!

Other uses are to control things like the filter, the pitch, the resonance or anything really, and you can get some really insane sounds.

Effects: These can be anything from chorus, flange, delay, reverb, or many other things, but I won’t be going into these in this post either.

Unison Detune: This is often a single knob to control the detune for all the voices in the synth that aren’t given actual oscillators.

I’m sure there are lots of synths with manipulators I haven’t mentioned, but these are what I’ve found to be most common, but if I’ve forgotten an important one, let me know!

Finally, the amplifier:

This isn’t really something you need to think about unless you’re using a hardware synth that requires an amp to make sound, in which case you will just have to buy an amp and get familiar with it, because all amps are very different. Software synths are amplified by your DAW or your computer (if its a standalone synth) and played through your speakers.

There is also another kind of synthesis called FM or ‘Frequency Modulation’ synthesis, but I will save that for another post as it gets quite complicated.

Thanks for reading, hope you found this helpful, if theres anything you’d like me to do a post on, let me know!

Setup and Recording:

Guitar and bass: The guitar and bass were both recorded using an Axe FX pre-amp, running into Helix board 18 fire wire digital mixer set up with a recording track in logic. The tone/virtual amp setup for the guitar was an off axis miking of a virtual Recto Orange amp. The bass was run through the Axe FX and into the mixer as a direct signal.

Drums: The drums were programmed with MIDI using Superior Drummer software.

Synths: The synths were programmed with MIDI using the Nexus plugin.

Voice: All vocals were recorded in a small room with little treatment using an AKG Perception 220 running into a DI interface, into a recording track in logic. A pop filter was used and singer/vocalist stood a few inches away from pop filter with that a few inches from the mic.

Processing and Effects:

Guitar: The 2 guitar parts were panned hard left and hard right. Both being processed with CLA Guitar plugins from waves, to add a little reverb, compression and EQ colour, some frequencies were then EQed out separately. Intro riff was notch EQed for effect.

Bass: The bass was EQed with a high roll off and some mids cut out, then compressed lightly.

Synths: Synths were given some Drastic EQ dips, peaks and roll offs to help stop masking. Delay and reverb were applied in the plugin whilst creating the sound.

Drums: In the plugin: Kick and snare were EQed and compressed. The toms were noise gated and compressed, some were also filtered. All drums except overheads and hats were bussed to a separate channel and given parallel compression. This bus was then sent to the main out with everything else at a lower level to add an intense thickness to the sound. Drums were all panned to the appropriate places to where a drummer would be sitting. Out of the plugin (aka the drums as a group:) Multipression to compress upper mids was applied, as well as a limiter at a low threshold to keep from peaking.

Vocals: All sung vocals were given a tight reverb, relatively strong compression, some stereo widening (particularly on the harmonies) and some EQ for colouring. Often harmonies were pushed down in volume to keep them from masking the main melody. Screamed vocals were triple tracked, EQed, had reverb applied, and compressed slightly. One track was panned half left, one half right, and one widened to maximum.

Checked phase correlation using a correlation meter plugin and frequency spectrum using a multimeter plugin.

Mastering: Mastering was done using iZotope Ozone 4. In the paragraphic equalizer some lower mids were cut, as well as some of the highs, as there was a lot of hiss. A limiter was added with a -4.2dB threshold to really improve the loudness of the track. A harmonic exciter was added to enhance the higher frequencies in particular. A multipressor was used to compress all the frequencies with slightly different amounts, as the mix needed it to help translate to other speakers in my house, crossovers were set at 80Hz, 324Hz and 5.05kHz. A multiband stereo imager was used to centre all frequencies below 80Hz a little and widen all frequencies above 5.05kHz quite a lot.

IZotope Ozone 4 also has a built in correlation meter, level meters and phase monitoring allowing keeping tabs on phase cancelation and peaking. Mix was converted  to mono to listen, however, just to be sure.

Setup: First step of the setup was placing the 4 AKG C1000 choir mics on boom stands raised up pointing down to the choir rise. They were set to a cardioid polar pattern with a bass roll off. Their XLR cables were run under the choir rises and into the right stage box that ran back to the sound booth and connected to the mixer, plugging into channels 16-20, on the mixer they were then grouped and assigned mute button 1. The wireless headset’s receiver boxes were connected to the right stage box via a cable with 16 XLR connections. The headsets were run to channels 1-13 then grouped on the mixer and assigned mute button 2. The 7 hand held mics were connected to the left stage box and run to channels 25-32. All lines were checked for signal, to reveal one mic was not plugged in, this was quickly fixed. Room was already tuned using a 32 band graphic EQ with a quite a tame curve. The fold backs were connected to aux channels 1-4. The laptop was plugged into the mixer via the tape in using a stereo RCA to stereo 3.5 cable.

Sound check: Played some music through the PA to get a rough mix for the backing track, the got rough fader levels for the choir mics during rehearsals. The backing tracks were run from the laptop into all 4 fold backs at about -3.5dB, as the performers told me that was the level they found most appropriate. All 4 choir mics were compressed slightly to keep dynamics a little more even. Some frequencies around 1-2k were EQed out to reduce some thinness and tininess in the sound.

Set up the fold back levels for headsets at around -1.5dB. Some headsets began experiencing serious interference problems, after changing these for others only to have more begin causing the same problem, and no time to retune, it was decided that the handhelds would be used instead.

Set up fold back levels of handhelds to about -1.5dB. As the number of singers, who was singing, and which mic was where changed each song, little EQing could be performed on these, but some hiss around 16k was pulled down in almost all mics, as many of the younger singers were creating some and all mics were compressed a little to help compensate for children with poorer mic technique and/or difficulty sustaining technique while dancing.

A noise gate was applied to the choir mics to keep them quiet while nobody was singing, however mute buttons were quickly applied during any song without a choir or whilst the presenter/host was on stage.

Once I, the performers and the person putting on the concert was happy with the sound I was able to get a little more creative with the EQ for the choir mics to help them really sit well with the backing track.

Evaluation: Overall the concert went well, despite some problems during sound check, ways around them were found fast enough to get a good sound for the rest of the concert. The sound of the hand held mics was the only thing I wasn’t particularly happy with, and could not do much to fix this, as the mics were not labeled and the singers were constantly changing, so any time a good sound was achieved, it would need fixing in the next song.

If I were to do it over I would be more thorough with making sure all mics were connected during set up, and find a way to label each handheld mic so I know which is which one the channel or arrange a system so that I know which person has which mic for each song (this process would probably work better as it could also be applied should the headsets have been used.) As I was using a mixing desk I had never used before I did not know much about the processing it was capable of and how to apply it, but as I got further into the day I figured more and more out, so if doing over I would also have applied the signal processing much faster to save time and allow me to focus my attention more on creatively mixing.

Everybody knows that the most important part of working with sound is having good ears, these are my personal favourites for ear training:

Apps:

Quiztones- this app lets you choose to either train your tone recognition, or your ability to hear EQ changes in various instruments or your own music, and if you upgrade to pro you get gain level comparison and EQ expert quizes as well!

http://quiztones.net/

EQ Trainer- EQ trainer is only for training fundamental frequencies recognition, however it is has much more variation in difficulty and also is designed to help you improve your speed at recognising them.

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/eq-trainer/id458969341?mt=8

Remember: apps are good to keep your practice up, but they only go so far in difficulty, for really serious ear training you will probably need to try one of these…

Audio Books/Listening CDs:

Golden Ears- Golden Ears is a very intense ear training course for anyone really serious about sound engineering, it trains your ears on frequencies, effects and processing, decays and delays, and then returns to do more advanced work on frequencies. This is an incredible course, I very highly recommend it. The other products on the Molton Laboratories website are worth mentioning too. These include the ‘Playback Platinum Series,’  ‘Total Recording’ by David Moulton, Recording Magazine, and I could go on. Golden Ears (and Total Recording) were created by KIQ productions.

http://www.moultonlabs.com/page/cat/Product/

http://www.kiqproductions.com/

Critical Listening Skills for Audio Professionals- This course is great because it just asks you to sit and listen to the different sounds, rather than write down guesses for listening tests, which isn’t a bad thing, however, I find sometimes I would rather just listen and learn than be constantly testing myself.

http://www.amazon.com/Critical-Listening-Skills-Audio-Professionals/dp/1598630237

Other:

www.trainyourears.com Train Your Ears EQ Edition- this is another good ear training resource, however I would still recommend one of the CD courses.