SH Spotlight PART DEUX: Recording and mastering questions asked and (hopefully) answered

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, May 8, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    You're welcome, Doug, but don't mistake me; Ray Charles recorded both HIT THE ROAD, JACK and UNCHAIN MY HEART on one 30 minute reel of tape in real "reel" time. In other words, both songs finished, recorded and mixed within 1/2 hour! Of course, Bill Putnam was engineering at United Recording and that MIGHT have made a difference... ;)
     
  2. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey
    Isn't JACK from Bell, Steve?
     
  3. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I agree.

    Most of the books out there (and colleges for that matter :mad: ) teach "formula EQ". For instance they will say, "if your mix is muddy, take out some 250" or "if you want more clairty, add some 8k". Or the one that always gets me is "you can never take out too much 500" :realmad: :realmad: Sure, too much 500 sounds like ***, but there is such a thing as taking out too much! They will also tell you that for a mix to sound "professional" you must add reverb and compression :rolleyes: Don't get me started on audio textbooks. When they are required for a class that I am in, I never buy them. They all say the same thing.

    Steve is right, you can't learn this stuff out of a book. A book can teach you how to use gear out of the context of the mix, but a book can't teach you how to use the gear to serve the mix. That you have to figure out on your own.
     
  4. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    Location:
    The OC
    What used to crack me up was when we'd get a good sound and somebody would want to write down our settings. There are so many variables that that is basically useless. Tear down the session, set it up again the next day and everything is often different.
     
  5. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Yeah, that cracks me up too. I am Jack's teachers assistant for a few of his classes including his monitor mixing class. If I whip up a stage with 4 double wedge mixes and sidefills at like 120 dB or something crazy like that, someone will always ask if they can take a picture of the 1/3rd. Jack and I die laughing!!

    The only thing that is somewhat certan about monitors is 3k15 will generally be the first frequency to feed back!

    Anyway, back to questions about recording :D
     
  6. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    According to "Uh-Huh", both Hit The Road Jack and Unchain My Heart were done at Bell.
     
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Yeah, they both are. You're right. Wrong studio. Bell Sound, NYC. Same 1/2 hour tape though...
     
  8. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey
    ...and still amazing.
     
  9. GT40sc

    GT40sc Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    to Joe and Doug and Steve,

    I want to throw out another idea here, because I like books...

    You guys are naturals at this, but I'm not. I came to engineering without much music or electronics background; just a Beatles fan who loved playing with tape recorders.

    And when I saw the video of "The Compleat Beatles," where George Martin plays one of the "Sgt.Pepper" four-tracks, I was off and running...

    And last night they interviewed Jerry Wexler on "American Routes," and I was glued to the radio...still have that same feeling after 25 years.

    Books are valuable to me, along with a good instructor, because somebody's gotta tell you to pull a little 300 out of the kick sometimes. At least the books can give you a start; point you in the right direction. Otherwise, it just takes too long to learn to hear the problem on your own. Took me two or three years, at least, before I started to get a handle on it...

    And when you finally get it, you learn that there are really only two things you have to know:

    1. When you hear a problem, you know how to fix it.
    2. When you hear a good tone, you know how to leave it alone!

    peace to all,
     
  10. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I am not totally against books. I have learned a lot from books. I learned how to properly setup a tape machine from a book. I also learned how to terminate various types of cables and read schematics from a book. Books are good for objective information, but when it comes to the subjective, books are not as appropriate.
     
  11. ChristianL

    ChristianL Senior Member

    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    Steve, since I read and learned from Your "Audio Lessons" I used every mentioned EQ-pressing point with good results. For some reason, I never used the 1000 Hz point. In which cases is it necessary to increase or decrease this point?
     
  12. Doug Hess Jr.

    Doug Hess Jr. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Belpre, Ohio
    Yeah...that probably had SOMETHING to do with it.
     
  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    In the old days the 1000 cycle point was used to "beef up" or enhance the presence range mainly for vocals. It was a standard knob on many recording studios of the time (1k was usually the "midrange knob", 5k was the "treble knob" and 100 cycles was the "bass knob")

    Listen to the old mix of the Beach Boys' ALL SUMMER LONG for the over-use of the 1k boost. I always remove a bit of that when I detect it. Try taking out 2 db at 1k for ALL SUMMER LONG or maybe Van Morrison's vocal on the song MOONDANCE. Works like a charm.
     
  14. Metoo

    Metoo Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Spain (EU)
    Steve, isn't the 4k point where the true vocal presence is, specially if you want to power-up female voices? I understand that this is the frequency most opera singers are strong at and, thus, why their voices project so well. Then again, it is also a frequency than can be ear-tiring if boosted too much.
     
  15. ChristianL

    ChristianL Senior Member

    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    Thanks for replying.
     
  16. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    4K is sibilance, "s" and "t" sounds. If you want to power up a vocalist, add some 125, 250 and a bit of 400.
     
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Agreed. I do it all the time. Just a touch though!
     
  18. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Yup, its amazing what a .5 to 1 dB can do. I always laugh when people say that you cant hear a .5 dB change. Sometimes, thats all you need to tidy things up. Most of the time with EQ, less is more. Its easy to over EQ. I catch myself doing this sometimes. At that point, I flatten the EQ and start over. When EQ'ing, you must always be thinking "what am I trying to achieve with EQ, and how can I use it to serve the aesthetic of the mix".

    A lot of times in mastering you need to compromise, especially if the mix is not that great. For instance, do I make the vocals natural, and leave the high hat and cymbals a little dull, or do I make the band natural and let the vocals be a litte dull. In a case like that, I will give away the band, and let the vocals come through naturally.

    What about mixing?

    When mixing, proper EQ'ing is extremely necessary to avoid compromises in mastering. I mix a little bit differently from most engineers. Most engineers will get a good level balance between tracks and do some panning. Then they will solo each track and dial in a great sound for each of them. Then they will unmute the channels and tweak levels and panning, and maybe tweak EQ. I don't do this, because the EQ that was good OUT OF THE CONTEXT OF THE MIX, might not be appropriate in the mix. Sure, each track might sound great on its own, but when they are all together, there could be frequency collisions (masking).

    When I mix, I will get a good balance between tracks and then pan. I will then start EQ'ing each channel so that it fits in the mix. Sure, I solo tracks to tweak EQ, but my final EQ tweak for a particular track is not based on how it sounds soloed, it is done based on how it sounds IN THE CONTEXT OF THE MIX. Yeah, a Les Paul through a big ol' tube amp sounds great full bandwith, but it will end up sounding muddy when you add the bass, so it is wise to highpass the guitar, but in order to do this the guitar and the bass must be unmuted at the same time. Then you can sweep the highpass until the muddiness goes away. You would never hear the muddiness if you just soloed the guitar and EQ'ed it, because there is nothing else but guitar in that channel! But once you start adding things with similar frequency content to the mix, watch out for masking!! This goes triple for vocals, it is SO easy to bury vocals in a mix.

    I wish more engineers would think this way. It sure would make Steve's job a lot easier!!


    Shall we talk about classical music now... :D
    <end Joe's EQ rant :D >
     
  19. Lownote30

    Lownote30 Bass Clef Addict

    Location:
    Nashville, TN, USA
    Joe. That is exactly the same thing I do when I mix. I have sat in on too many mixing sessions where the engineer soloed each instrument to EQ it, and it would sound great until they put it back in the full picture. As a bass player, I often noticed that the bass as an instrument was lost in the mix when things were mixed this way. I think a snare drum is a great example of how different something can sound alone as opposed to being mixed in with everything else. A snare drum can be EQed really bright alone, but then not sound bright enough when thrown back into the mix. Great post Joe!!

    Frank R
     
  20. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    Location:
    The OC
    Another thing I never understood was how some people would get drum sounds. They'd concentrate on each mic and try to get the best possible sound on a mic to mic basis. The problem is that when you combine the mics you get all kinds of interactions. The only way to do this IMO is to listen to all the drum mics at the same time. This is much more critical with drums than most other instruments because there are so many mics in close proximity. In other words, the overhead mics will get snare and toms, though with a slight bit of delay compared to the snare and tom mics. On top of that, many mics have vastly different responses off axis than they do on axis. With drums you're always getting off axis responses when you use a lot of mics. How a drum mic sounds by itself is not that relavant. As in much of life, it's the big picture that matters.

    It's amazing how many people get mic sounds and work on them with the 'solo' button. When pushing most solo buttons on vintage consoles, you can easily lose context. I always had better luck muting tracks that were in the way as opposed to soloing. That way you maintain the panning, reverbs, effects, etc.
     
  21. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Or, only use a couple or three mics for the whole kit, ala Glyn Johns.
     
  22. Joe Nino-Hernes

    Joe Nino-Hernes Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Works great for jazz!
     
  23. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Ringo as well.
     
  24. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Rock too.
     
  25. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    Location:
    The OC
    I made a lot or live recordings with just a kick and two overheads. If you place them right (and that's a big IF) the results can be outstanding.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page

molar-endocrine