Complex Fades

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Cucco, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Quick question for anyone who has messed around extensively with fades -

    When fading in or out whether it be through applause or into the first note of a piece or even out of a reverb tail, do you often deal with complex fades?

    Now, having asked the question, let me define the term I use "Complex Fades." I see this as a fade made from multiple fades overlapping. For example - a fade out could be made using half of a crossfade or using a volume automation. However, a complex fade could be made using both creating a potentially smoother and more realistic fade.

    I find myself needing to do this "complex fade" often especially on fade outs as the crossfade editor on many popular packages (including samp/seq) get to around -64dBFS and simply drop off. True, that's darn quiet, but if you have noise that you're fading out of, you will notice the sudden cut-off.

  2. ptr

    ptr Active Member

    I'm not completely sure that I understand where You are aiming (might be my lack of understanding the english terminology?), anyway, my way (the general way I'd guess) to avoid the complete silence of digital is to always record the room I'm working in with and without an audience. Then I edit in that room silence when needed during fades in the end of applause and inbetween movements when I've had to remove faul audience noice. This is even how I work when editing commercial records, adding room ambience inbetween movements as to never remove the feeling of beeing there -- that digital silence is awful..

    I've never had a thought about anything more complex then the Sequoia cross-fade editor offers...

  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey Ptr,

    I definitely agree, if crossfading into room noise, the fades in Sequoia are more than adequate (as they are in WaveLab and other programs.)

    However, it's not always possible to record a noise print prior to a concert. (I certainly don't always have the luxury of a quiet hall prior to most any engagement. Though, on my more sophisticated recordings, I usually have several seconds of silence I can steal from elsewhere in the recording.)

    In general, most music on publicly released CDs nowadays fades to digital black between tracks. Now, on multi-movement works, this is usually not done (or I should say, often not done), but between different pieces, it is very much the norm. It is these fades to which I am referring. Unfortunately, the fade editor in most any program I have worked with will not do a smooth fade to digital black, only down 64dB or so and then a quick chop. The thing is, in a cross fade, you wouldn't need any more resolution than that - in fact, it's a bit overkill, but common to most high-quality mastering programs.

    That's where my (soon to be patented :wink: ) complex fade comes in. After a piece is complete, I use the crossfade editor to create the shape of the fade that I truly want. Then, I draw an automation curve in the volume that will take the crossfade curve and gently lower it more than the CF editor will allow. Often the shape of the automation curve can get quite complex until I get just the sound I want.

    My thought about fades is rather bold - I think many engineers completely overlook the importance of good fades. I have a wonderful recording of R-K's Capriccio Espagnol and Scheherazade on the Teldec label, but the fades in this disc are utter crap.

    One of the things I learned as a musician that I apply often in engineering is -

    Silence needs to be treated as just as much a part of the music as any note or dynamic marking on the page.

    So, in other words - silence (or how you get there) can evoke passionate feelings and emotions, often more than the music itself.

    I'll share a rather personal experience with this -
    It was September 14th 2001, having been fortunate enough to be late to my job at the Pentagon just 3 days earlier, I was obviously not in a great state of mind. During breaks between news broadcasts, I was flipping channels and I came across WETA (the TV/PBS station associated with NPR here in DC). The National Symphony Orchestra was performing a tribute concert featuring Mahler's 2nd (Resurrection) Symphony. At the beginning of the final movement, there is a bombastic chord and a rather contrasting short development section followed by silence.

    Many conductors give only a fleeting pause during this rest, but Maestro Slatkin allowed the entire note to disappear in the hall ( a good 5 seconds or more) before he conducted the proceding passage. It was during the 5 seconds where you could literally hear the audience gasp for air and try to remain calm.

    It was Maestro Slatkin's treatment of the silence which to me was most memorable from this concert. It showed so much: reverence, peace, anguish, fear - all of this from no sound, or more specifically, how he obtained the level of "no sound."

    It is with this in mind that I approach every fade with caution and completely understand that silence and music move different people different ways - I wan't it to be as perfect as possible before I burn it to disc.

    Thanks for indulging me...

    J :)
  4. ptr

    ptr Active Member


    I completely agree about the importance of silence! And I would never go digital black, even at the end of a CD I usualy put 15-20 seconds of "room" with a very slow, perhaps 5 sek fadeout at the end. The optimal should be that the person listening shoulden't notice when the recorded room ends..

  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    It is very interesting to hear you say that. I don't mean that negatively at all, I'm being quite sincere. If done correctly, I know that it certainly can be done with great effect. I'm assuming, you are getting your room noise down to the -65 dBFS or lower range?

    This is what I shoot for when I have the option (ie. actual recording sessions, not live concerts. In live events, I always fade to black during applause.)

  6. ptr

    ptr Active Member

    Without having done any science on this, but my experiece say's that none of the rooms or churches I work regularly in have a room noice (even with ventilation and heating shut down) below -60dBFS.

    To me, this is really not a problem.. Mostly beca├║se I see the room as an essential part of the musical creation, if the room noice floor (after editing) is lower inbetween movements and in places where You want the "silence" - then You'll get "that" feeling of discontinuity. As I see it, You have to work with the room..

  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey Ptr,

    This is interesting that we see so differently on this point. Again, just an example of how people do things differently and yet still get the job done.

    I definitely feel though, that on any session recording, room noise should be left in between movements only. The seperation of two completely different pieces by an appropriately sized dead space is useful in getting the listener ready or willing to accept the change in style/tempo/pitch/etc of the next piece.

    I'm not trying to beat the proverbial dead horse here, but if the level is not adequately low, as I would submit any noise in the -50 through -60 dBFS would not be, than it only serves to detract, not complement the disc. This is why, in most commercial releases, there is complete silence (including the RedBook mandated 2 second pause - which needless to say would sound dreadfully wierd if you have a noiseprint of say -58dBFS and then all of a sudden a digital black imposed by the 2 second gap) between tracks of dissimilar pieces.

    My only point is, I would much rather control how the sound gets to digital black myself with a smooth, complex fade then to either leave a noise print all the way through or to have my sound abruptly interupted.

    So, I guess, back to the original question-

    When fading to digital black, does anyone use the complex fade method or any other type of specialized fading method?

    J :)
  8. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    If you are finding that the fade cuts out too quickly, than you probably need to find a better fade.... I don't mean to sound harsh, but I have yet to have a fade situation where I can't do it with Sequoia's (or Sonic's in my old editing days) fade editor.

    I find that cosine curves with an offset root-linear fade works quite well when going in to room sound. I never go into black on a classical album. Concerts go to the ambient sound of the hall in the show and albums always have recorded room sound. I find that for live shows, often basic room sound is simply too quiet and it sounds too close to black. If the audience is exceedingly noisy, I may make an exception, but more often than not, I'll pull from a quieter portion of the concert- not pure silent room sound.

  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I've spent hours playing with the fade parameters and can't find one that I like entirely for total fades. The overriding reason simple - at less than -64dBFS, they simply cut off - all of them.

    As for live albums, I agree about bringing in some room noise, but for a produced album I don't.

    As a matter of fact, I haven't heard a produced album from the heavy hitters (Telarc, Sony, DG, RCA, etc.) where they didn't fade to black between pieces. Even some live events and some between movement selections are faded to digital black.

    The Sequoia (or Sonic, or Sadie, or Pyramix, etc) crossfade editors are just that, Crossfade editors. They are not designed to create the best possible complete fade outs. They are designed to fade from one "object" to another. This is the very reason that the big mastering guys have their "Big Knob" (Absolutely NO relation to the Mackie product of the same name.) Mastering engineers use Mastering Consoles with large knobs which they use to create fades. The main reason - they are far more accurate than any software fades. Why? They maintain their resolution from top to bottom.
  10. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

  11. I agree with Ben. If you are using sophisticated mastering software (I'm coming from SADiE here), then you should have enough fade options to accomplish nearly anything. Different fades for different tasks, I'd just try something else. Fades on top of fades or automation on top of a fade is unnecessary and overly complicated IMO. Unless you're using Pro Tools... I don't know how anyone gets by with the fades on that thing...

    Also, I do not know what you mean by a mandated 2 sec digital black gap. There is a required first track offset, but after that you're free to do whatever you like. The CD is a continuous medium--you can put audio between end and start IDs (or you can butt them against each other for no gap). Whether the player follows spec and does not mute is another story.
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey Andrew!

    The Red Book Standard specifies a 2 second gap between tracks. This has become one of those specifications that has been swept under the rug since the advent of better players and the death of track indicies back in the late 80s.

    I'm also familiar with SADiE as I used it for a few years back in "the Day." I'm also familiar with Pyramix (that was the system that I almost bought before I bought Sequoia.) In all 3 cases, how do you get past the fact that, below -64dB, the fade ceases to be linear or logarithmic and becomes abrupt? (I use the arbitrary wording "below 64dB" simply because different software becomes abrupt and different thresholds; however, all of them occur below the -64dBFS range - in other words - really quiet.)

    Didn't you used to do some work with BK? Share some insight with us - what was his preferred method for fading out? (Please be sure to read this as a sincere question, not as a smart-assed one. Inflection is difficult in type.)

    J. :D

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