dry sound examples? What should recorded tracks sound like before...

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by chris_countedshadows, Jul 19, 2011.

  1. chris_countedshadows

    chris_countedshadows Member

    Jul 19, 2011
    Hi Everyone,

    I'm new to this forum and there are so many topics here compared to others I don't know where to start. If something like this exists already maybe you could point me in the right place?

    One of the biggest problems I face with my home recordings is that I don't have any sense at all of what my tracks should sound like straight out of recording before I even begin to touch them in my DAW.

    It should be noted that I am recording in the metal genre.

    I tend to create all my drum tracks in Toontracks EZ Drummer with the DFH Kit and I add various presets to get to a starting point. Then I import those into my DAW and start recording my guitar and bass.

    When I get my recordings to a car or someone else's stereo I get frequencies piling up on themselves and often get a "WHOOMP WHOOMP" sound when I'm palm muting. But yet I roll everything below 80hz out of the mix entirely and try to notch out stuff around the 150hz mark. I do it by ear until there is no whoomp whoomp in the house. But it's ALWAYS there in the car. It's not there in headphones either.

    I'm thinking, besides the obvious room treatment issues, that my starting point is already screwing my whole process moving forward.

    Are there guidelines to how I should prepare each track BEFORE I start mixing?

    Thanks for any help in advance,
  2. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Distinguished Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Short answer: it should sound recorded how it sounds in the room.

    Long answer: this would take me years to explain, better to find out the dirty details yourself.

    If you are talking about metal guitars then no one can really tell you how your guitar tracks should sound, part of getting good recorded tone is finding your own tone.

    A few things... What are you recording, what guitar/pickups/amp/cabinet/microphone? Are you boosting the amplifier? What is your recording environment like?

    Your car stereo may actually be creating sound issues that do not exist. Chances are if you don't hear the problem on any other system then you've found your problem. This reminds me of something that I used to do back a few years. I had a shoddy set of Altec Lansing computer speakers instead of studio monitors like I do today and I would always have to KILL the low end of everything that I miked up, and in actuality it was the cheapness of the subwoofer that came with the speaker set that couldn't handle what I was throwing at it rather than a problem with the capture itself.

    Do you have any WHOMP WHOMP clips you could post to the site (or send me in a PM if you are wary) and I could listen through my monitors and let you know whether or not the problem is your car or your amp/miking. Start from there.
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Resource Member

    Jul 21, 2009
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Home Page:
    Try moving your speakers/listening spot around a bit to see how that whoomp whoomp increases/dereases and find where it's most balanced. also before u spend money spend some time testing your room, the mirror points and above the listening position will need treatment. sounds like you've got bass problems, so it's importand to know what frequency is the problem. we moved our desk 6" forward and suddenly heard bass notes that were previously inaudible. there is a free testing program call 'Room eq Wizard' that works very nicely. even diy treatment is not cheap, so know exactly what you need and don;t waste your money on things you don't.
    Even in metal guitar you don't need gobs of low end save that for the bass/kick. bass/kick have fundemental notes below 80hz, so you might want to consider leaving those in your mix.
  4. Mirrormix

    Mirrormix Active Member

    Aug 5, 2011
    United States
    I find it strange how these days there is so little talk about raw recorded tracks. I'm a big fan of a high quality raw sound. To answer your inquiry about how things "should" sound when raw I say:

    -As close to how you ultimately want them to sound as possible.

    That can mean a few things. Some folks interpret that to mean that one should track with effects processing on the input so that as little processing as possible is needed during mixdown. That's one strategy. I don't mind doing it to a certain extent. But I caution the average novice against it because usually a novice doesn't know enough about what sounds "right" and how to make things sound "right" in general to be able to make useful decisions about effects processing on the way in.

    By far the safest way to track is to track completely clean/raw, meaning no effects processing on the input, no monitoring through effects processing and nothing done to alter the sound that was entered into the microphone at all. When you take this approach you leave yourself options during mixdown for effects processing (To be clear I'm not talking about not tweaking and tuning and adjusting instruments pre microphone or the process of moving the mics to suit your purpose. I'm talking very specifically about not applying effects processing after the mic picks it up). The potential drawback to the "track it clean/raw" approach (and perhaps the one most cited) is that it's usually said to be relatively difficult to get a clean/raw sound to be the "right" sound. That's probably due to the fact that most polished, finished products in modern popular (and semi-popular) music are relatively heavily edited and effects laden to present the en-vogue (and largely unrealistic) sonic aesthetic that major release recordings have. But all is not lost if you still want to track raw and get "that big polished sound".

    To me these days there seems to be a general lack of understanding regarding great sounding raw recordings, how attainable they are and how incredibly useful and necessary they are. In my opinion everything that matters most happens before the mic picks it up. If you can get your clean/raw tracks to sound great then you can take them in any direction you want and if you find yourself at a dead end you can always get back to the clean/raw tracks, which if recorded well isn't a bad place to be.

    Instead of reaching for the EQ on your console, preamp, outboard unit, or in your sequencer try tweaking the source's EQ (if it has one). On guitars for example, instead of trying to make every take the fattest most juicy guitar take, try layering the guitar takes so you have some that are meant to be heavier and some meant to be more thin. Work with the arrangement so that parts don't step all over each other. Work with playing style so that the strumming and picking and fretting is consistent with the part that is happening in the arrangement. Use different pickups for different parts. Use different guitars for different parts. Move the mics, record a test, listen to the playback in your monitors and then make adjustments. All of that involves no signal processing after the mic and all of it will make for a better sounding raw track.

    With drums for example, if the sound isn't right evaluate the tuning of the drums, the player and the kit sound itself as well as the location the take is happening in. If any of those things sucks then it will never be right. Use new skins as often as you can. If you want punch make sure the player knows how to hit the drums right. A well tuned kit played well in a decent sounding room, with the right mic placement will sound fine recorded clean and played back raw.

    Learn to gain stage properly. Learn to record takes in blocks so that you can adjust the gain staging at the preamps so that you're not clipping anything when the dynamic shifts happen and so that the quieter parts are where you want them to be. This eliminates a lot of unnecessary fader riding later during mixdown. Basically when you track clean you have to take your time to listen, record a test, listen to the playback, adjust, record another test, listen to the playback, etc. It eliminates the need for using signal processing on the input as a crutch for masking an inferior sounding room or gear or mediocre playing.

    I often get tracks to mix from people who have obviously recorded with the intention of getting the most punchy, powerful sounding recording they can imagine and in that quest they forget that when everything is fat and punchy and powerful it overall sounds dull and muddy. That's probably because they don't pay enough attention to the quality of their raw tracks beyond "punch" and "vibe". They miss that the thing should sound "right" first. They don't understand "right", so they expect it will just work out so long as they got to use their Neve gear on the input or their API gear for the drums or whatever. They miss the point. All of the crap that people do to their raw recordings has become a giant mask of bull that they wear for lack of confidence in their ability to sound like they want to sound without that stuff. If more time is taken to pay attention to the raw sound being the "right" sound then there would be better sounding finished products IMO.

    And not to leave you hanging HERE is a recording that is completely tracked clean/raw and left unmixed. There is no input signal processing, no leveling, no effects, no mixdown signal processing, nothing. All of the faders were left at unity and the only thing that has been done is panning of the instruments. It is a recording of a band that I made with very low budget gear.

    -Close mics on the drums (sm57, snare and toms, AKG d112, kick, Digital Reference DRHX-1 on hat and ride)
    -Overheads (mxl 991 pair in ORTF)
    -Guitar cabs (sm57)
    -Bass cab (AKG d112)
    -Preamps (the stock pres in the Presonus Firestudio 2626)
    -Conversion (the converters in the Presonus Firestudio 2626)
  5. wilsb8

    wilsb8 Active Member

    Mar 25, 2012
    Live Oak, CA
    Beautiful mix! thumb

    This is actually the kind of mix that mastering engineers drool over. There's not much they have to do to it.

    I wish a few of my clientele would heed this.
  6. Jeff Ling

    Jeff Ling Active Member

    Mar 16, 2012
    Chillicothe, Ohio
    Play some commercial metal back to back with what you're working on and listen for differences. If you can find a spectrum analyzer program for your DAW, look at both tried an true metal ( like the metallica black album ) and your stuff and you should be able to see the problem.
  7. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2010
    Boulder, Colorado
    How they sound mixed is the critical thing. Great sounding tracks can result in bad sounding mixes, and bad sounding tracks can result in great sounding mixes. Don't get caught up in the details to the point you lose sight of the whole picture.

    You're dealing with a specific genre so there may be fashions, trends and standard methods you can follow if you're attached to the idea of sounding like somebody else. It's also good to have some sample songs in the particular style to compare your stuff to.

    Mastering is the stuff done after a song is mixed. This should have been in Home Recording.

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