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Can you solve this mystery?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Mixerman, Apr 22, 2001.

  1. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2001
    So, I've been recording this band, and we were after drum takes. Typically we would end up with 5 takes, and then load the 3 best into Protools to edit between. The drums sounded really good through the monitor section of the console we were using (I don't say this to brag, it's actually an important component of the story). The Producer was very happy with the drums off tape.

    So we load the drums into Protools from tape, and then the Protools guy takes the files to another computer to edit as we continue recording other songs. After we're done with all the takes, and most of the songs are edited, we are ready to do some over-dubs.

    We transfer the edited versions into the Protools rig in the room. I set the faders in Protools to unity level, and listen to the drums through the console again. I was not critically listening for differences between tape, and ProTools as that was not a concern of mine. Suffice it to say, the drums still sounded good through the monitor section of the console after the transfer.

    So now we're moving at a clip, and we load up another song record some overdubs, and then another and record some over-dubs. On the third song, I'm trying to set the fader levels, and I'm having trouble. All of a sudden, for some inexplicable reason, the drums sound like $*^t. Really bad, and not just to me.

    The Producer is looking at me, and asking me what happened to the drum sound. So I start messing with EQ, and levels for a couple of minutes, and the sound is drastically off from what it had been all day long. I was having a very difficult time compensating for this sudden difference in sound quality.

    Then, a lightbulb went off in my brain. I knew what it was. In less than 30 seconds, I fixed the problem, took off all the EQ's, and reset the faders. The drums were back to the form they had been all day long. The Producer was relieved. The second engineer plainly heard the difference in sound quality.

    What was the problem?

    Mixerman
     
  2. miketholen

    miketholen Guest

    So now we're moving at a clip
    What? a Clip?!? does that mean fast?
    On the third song, I'm trying to set the fader levels, and I'm having trouble
    Trouble setting levels? huh?
    I don't know why PT would automatically sound like $*^t, I would imagine it would sound like $*^t all the time! But you said you liked what you heard from the other songs so maybe they all sound like $*^t.
    :D
    Is this some sort of riddle? or an oxymoron?
    I use Tape w/Tools all the time and have never come across your situation other than PT alway sounds like $*^t so I Consider it "Par for the course".
    Mike ;)
     
  3. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2000
    I dunno... you suck at setting fader levels?
    lol... j/k ;)
     
  4. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2001
    Originally posted by miketholen:
    Stick with me here. (Clip means fast, yes)

    It sounded acceptable off of ProTools for 3 songs. True, I would certainly have preferred it directly off tape, but that was not an option, as it was edited and we needed to stay in ProTools (why is irrelevant).

    Same drums, same room, and they sounded good going down. In fact, the drums sounded fine coming off of ProTools. (OK, perhaps not ideal, but nothing that mixing couldn't compensate for so let's not get bogged down by that). There was a drastic change in quality of sound after OKing the sound of the drums off ProTools earlier. The drums sounded good the song before, and the drums sounded good after I realized what the problem was. Everyone in the room heard the difference. It was obvious. If I was the only one that heard it, I wouldn't even bring it up.

    What happened?

    Mixerman
     
  5. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2001
    Ok, I've never ever worked with protools, but solving a problem always gets me. Doesn't protools and most of these computer programs save stuff several levels deep so that you can undo easily? I'm guessing that there were so many levels of changes from finished songs being saved, you were running out of horsepower on the next song till you flushed all those temp files (or whatever they're called) out of the system.

    If that's not the answer, I'll come up with something else.
     
  6. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2001
    I'll just toss of a guess that the panning was changed and threw off the imaging and caused nasty phasing gremlins to screw with things. Just a wild guess, though.

    Bear
     
  7. MadMoose

    MadMoose Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2001
    Were you mixing drum levels and EQ in Pro Tools and not the monitor section of the console?
     
  8. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2001
    Originally posted by Jay Kahrs:
    Were you mixing drum levels and EQ in Pro Tools and not the monitor section of the console?

    There was no EQ in ProTools.

    BUT, yes the drum levels were changed in ProTools by the editing dude. The levels were set for a stereo output which he was listening to for editing. As soon as I put the levels at unity gain, the drums magically sounded good again.

    Now, question number one. Who thinks I'm full of $*^t, that there would be absolutely no difference?

    Question number two. Assuming you believe me, why does changing output levels within Pro Tools, with individual outputs one per input of the console, drastically change the quality of the sound?

    I'm not talking a little bit here, folks. Everyone in the room heard this difference without even listening for it. So don't discount it for sensitive ears. That's not what it was.

    Mixerman
     
  9. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2000
    Ooh, ooh... pick me!

    Did you have gates and compressors across all the channels? (Somehow I doubt that would be the purpose of this thread, but would be rather humorous. Much more so than what I think you're getting at.)
     
  10. Rog

    Rog Guest

    You mix in PT? Seriously? :)
     
  11. Tony C

    Tony C Guest

    DUH, Maybe Recorderman Knows, he's a rocket scientist isn't he?? :p
     
  12. Tony C

    Tony C Guest

  13. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2001
    Very interesting problem, fascinating solution. My question to you is why didn't you cut the damn 2"? You can always leave it in the box until you mix, but there is no way on God's grey earth that P-T will have the impact of 2" on a drum track...especially one that's been left in the box.

    You were cutting together sections from 3 different takes? Unless you had to reassemble the drummer a bar at a time, it shouldn't have taken more than an hour or two per song to do it with a razor blade.

    Better your gig than mine...
     
  14. alphajerk

    alphajerk Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2001
    could it be the low level bit dithering to the individual outputs? maybe lower volume resulting in less resolution on the way out the individual outputs? or maybe simply louder=better, increasing the level to unity would obviously yield better results, especially going out to an analog desk where your headroom would be seriously affected.

    [and checking the pt faders for unity gain when independantly running them out is a no brainer]

    and whats up? cant the band do one good take? they suck so bad you gotta splice three together??? :D
     
  15. MadMoose

    MadMoose Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2001
    Originally posted by Mixerman:
    There was no EQ in ProTools.

    Question number two. Assuming you believe me, why does changing output levels within Pro Tools, with individual outputs one per input of the console, drastically change the quality of the sound?


    Is it a two part? #1 I'm guessing it has to do with the internal math of the Fool Tools tracks being at lower then unity gain.

    #2 If the tracks are lower then unity gain wouldn't you be using less available bits from the D/A's and therefore have a drop in resolution? So rather then getting 20 or 21 bit's your getting 12 or 13 bits. Am I close?
     
  16. Kooch

    Kooch Guest

    Been there, done that--same results. Direct i/o always sounds better with Pro Tools. Not sure why. I could guess that it was 24bit audio being mixed internally to 24 bit stereo. Nasty. You CAN get better results by leaving faders at zero, placing good plugs like Waves stuff (giving you headroom in 48 bit-world) and using them to set/ride levels--still going straight individual outs. In fact, you should try this MM, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. If you don't have automation on a board, this is a decent way to go. But, I'm sure you don't ever have that problem, huh? :p

    Is the summing math on digital boards better? I've barely used an O2R once, wasn't able to make a real judgement.
     
  17. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2001
    Originally posted by Fletcher:
    Very interesting problem, fascinating solution. My question to you is why didn't you cut the damn 2"? You can always leave it in the box until you mix, but there is no way on God's grey earth that P-T will have the impact of 2" on a drum track...especially one that's been left in the box.

    You were cutting together sections from 3 different takes? Unless you had to reassemble the drummer a bar at a time, it shouldn't have taken more than an hour or two per song to do it with a razor blade.

    Better your gig than mine...


    This gig wasn't in LA, (in fact it was in the middle of nowhere) so for a variety of reasons, including time restraints, artists preferences, the fact that the only thing we were using from the studio was the room itself, we even had to get another console, we had no choice but to put it on Pro Tools (this isn't even the half of it, you're just going to have to take my word on it).

    You KNOW I would have preferred to cut tape. And you know I would have preferred to stay analog. It wasn't the way to go in this case.

    Mixerman
     
  18. Mixerman

    Mixerman Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2001
    Originally posted by Rog:
    You mix in PT? Seriously? :)

    If this was a comprehension test you would have failed. I think you need to re-read my posts. I was taking individual outs from ProTools into the monitor section of an analog console.

    Mixerman
     
  19. Hi Mixerman,

    What version of PT were you using?

    If you were using version 5 there was a nasty memory leak problem, where closing and opening different sessions (songs) could sometimes produce weird results like the one you mentioned.

    If this is not the problem I don't know what is. In more than 6 years with PT I've never experienced the problem you describe. The only way to recreate the problem that I can think of would be if the tracks were recorded at low level, then placing the faders at low level (somewhere near infinity) and compensating with gain to the monitors. Under these circumstances you could well hear the effects of quantisation errors, especially if you have an older version of an 888/24 which only has 20bit D/A converters.

    << Doesn't protools and most of these computer programs save stuff several levels deep so that you can undo easily? I'm guessing that there were so many levels of changes from finished songs being saved, you were running out of horsepower on the next song till you flushed all those temp files (or whatever they're called) out of the system. >>

    I can't speak of other computer programs but PT doesn't do this. That's one of the reasons multi-level undo has always been a problem on PT but also why it is so stable. The original files in PT are never changed. Even applying an audiosuite plug doesn't change an original file, it just writes a new permanent one.

    Greg
     
  20. Rog

    Rog Guest

     

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