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expander help

Discussion in 'Recording' started by vibrations1951, Nov 12, 2012.

  1. vibrations1951

    vibrations1951 Active Member

    I'm pretty new to digital recording/mixing and I don't have a long track record recording/mixing with analog gear either (But I'm 61 and been an analog guy...guit player, live sound hack... since I was 11). I tracked a live band for recording/mixing practice a while back. Since then I've tried every thing I could to clean up the tracks using gating and EQ. Results have not been what I had hoped for, especially when I tried applying compression. I've recently been reading a lot of what Remy and others have said about expanders and especially downward expansion.

    I've researched enough now to get the difference between gating and expansion and I'm convinced I can get what I'm looking for with an expander. I feel that a plugin with the look-ahead feature would be a great place for me to start. I want to get the most control I can with ratios and bandwidth as well. Maybe I'm being lazy but I've tried to weed through the market to find a plugin to suit my needs and work with my G5 and Nuendo and I rapidly get lost and bogged down.

    If anyone has some suggestions to narrow down my choices or even a quality pluggin recommendation for both upward and downward expasion and the needs I listed, I would be very grateful.

    Remy, your thoughts and recommendations would be extremely welcomed as would those of others.
     
  2. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    For removing background noise, you might also find an audio restoration tool would help, since it won't just attenuate the signal when it's quiet, it'll remove the offending background noise from the track.
     
  3. vibrations1951

    vibrations1951 Active Member

    Thanks for the reply bishopdante.
    I should have been more clear about what I meant by "noise". My bad. More precisely the problem is excessive bleed into the mics I'm trying to tame rather than defects like hiss noise, hum, clicks or crackle. From my research so far it really seems like downward expansion could be my friend.

    The recording space was far less than adequate and I now know my mic choice/placements and makeshift gobo setups could have been better. I tracked 15 inputs into a Mackie VLZ > inserts > HD24. I enjoy and can use some bleed to my advantage but many of the tracks are just too crowded with excess and make mixing a back and forth...do...redo nightmare.

    I'm sure a restoration tool could be a handy device for my setup but for now I really feel the expander is what I need...though I could be wrong. I am definately open to suggestions and discussion from those with helpful experience to share.

    help please...
     
  4. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    Aha. You can still kill spill with restoration tools, but if you're just looking for something that will tune out the gaps, an expander will do that.

    I'm not at all familiar with Nuendo or Cubase. Does it not have a factory expander plugin?

    However, I'm sure there's a bunch of PowerPC VST mac plugins out there that will do what you want and more. Also lots of multiband compressors have expanders as well in each frequency band, a type of dynamics processor commonly referred to as a compander.
     
  5. vibrations1951

    vibrations1951 Active Member

    I searched the dynamics plugins in my Nuendo 4 and couldn't seem to find an expander or compander. Perhaps those features are combined in with a gate or compressor?? I'm not at home so can't access it until this eve. I googled Nuendo 4 and the product lists 3 compressors and an expander. Perhaps I missed in on the startup disc originally and didn't download it? I'll have to search further when I have the time, hopefully tonight.

    In the meantime I would still appreciate any recommendations pertaining to any particular expander/compander plug-insothers have used and are very pleased with.
     
  6. vibrations1951

    vibrations1951 Active Member

    Egg on my face...found it! Don't know how I missed it. Big duh. Oh well, back to burning the candle at 5 or 6 ends!
     
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I generally use downward expansion more so on vocals and other melodic sounding instruments. I mostly use gating, on drums. But I don't gate the overheads very often. Those, I usually let fly, as is. The overheads will pick up the momentary transients that the 1 ms attack time of the gate will eliminate. But this actually works in your favor and have found that gating with lookahead, never sounds quite right. You want that delay built into the process because it provides more bulk to the sound. You get more beef, more of the fat by clipping that 1 ms transient that the overheads are picking up a few microseconds behind the timing of the snare drum. And I find that this helps to focus the sound better. Of course that is all subjective. But that's my style.

    I usually do my compression and limiting before I do my downward expanding or gating. This also helps to reduce the ambient electronic noise coming from the compressor/limiter. If you do it the other way around, the gate closes the microphone while the compressor/limiter sucks up the noise floor of the compressor. And who needs that?

    While you'll find some gating and expander setups in your software, I simply use a compressor with a GUI that represents what we've all seen in diagrams of limiters, settings, in action. And you just draw your own downward expander or gate in the GUI interface. Because it's just the inverse and part of compression and limiting. And within the GUI, you can actually have the software doing both at the same time. You do this by setting additional turnover points and dragging that line in the lower left-hand corner to the right. Your threshold settings are then where that turnover point are set and it gets a little difficult to get it just right in this GUI as you can not expand the grid of the GUI. And that threshold has to be set directly beneath the main signal source level. So you're going to have it somewhere around -10/-20. Dragging that turnover point to the right will vary your dynamics from gating to expansion depending on the location you place the turnover point and how far you drag the lower one to the right. Not all compressor/limiter GUI interfaces in all software, displays the compressor/limiter level versus turnover points with a GUI like grid. So with those, those can only do compression and limiting.

    Downward expansion and gating require an extremely fast attack time. Release times vary depending upon music and spectral content, acoustics, etc.. For drums, you want extremely fast release times. For vocals and other melodic instruments, you want 75-150 ms of release time on the average. And basically you're also doing a juggling act between your attack and release times within your compression/limiting. So ya want these expander/gates to sort of follow similar time constants. You can go with inordinately different time constants to create effects.

    Let me know how it goes? Would love to hear what you're doing?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  8. vibrations1951

    vibrations1951 Active Member

    Hey Remy
    Thanks so very much for that reply. I've been reading a lot of your generous posts regarding downward expansion (and everything else for that matter). I can't tell you how much I've gained! It will likely take me a while to get to actually trying your suggestions on what I've got. I'm working a long term plan of studio build and learning engineering. I figure I've got 1 more career left but to get to that I've got to plod along with baby steps. Rod was gracious enough to draw up the plans and further design my recording space with what I started 4+ years ago. I'm doing most all the work alone in my "spare" time (40hr day gig, private practice plus small recording/live gigs not to mention keeping wifey happy finishing building the rest of the house!). Over the years I slowly sold off live sound reinforcement stuff and been purchasing recording equipment, at the same time reading my ass off and trying to implement what I've learned. Digital is a major leap for me but I'm trudging along with this as well, thinking I'll probably end up doing hybrid.
    Sooooooooo...a long winded way of saying it will likely be a while before I report in on this again, but I will definately do it(my excuse). As far as letting others hear what I have done???That may take me a while to grow enough testicular fortitude to risk that much ego right now! I guess I'll have to do it sooner or later and can't think of a more supportive place to do it than here. Thanks again and I'll be back as soon as possible, likely with questions, once I can formulate some informed ones!
     
  9. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    vibes, you got me the the link to the last of the type k gasket (immense thnx). post sooner than later buddy, why not? improve your stuff now. RO isn't hells gates, even if your recordings 'suck' you just get some solutions. i've posted some bad ones, its ok. your a methodical seeming dude so i think some basic critiques would help you 10-fold, vs trying to tweak to the hilt. and then getting similar responses. Don't be shy buddy, people around here won't insult w/out offering some practical fixes as well. i haven't gotten insulted here, which is why i like it better than other forums. lets hear it :)
     
  10. vibrations1951

    vibrations1951 Active Member

    K you're a good man. I really appreciate the advice and you may have convinced me to risk it. It will take me a bit of concentrated effort to carve out the time but I'll try and give it a whirl sooner than later. I'll try to start from scratch with one song after I get permission from the band. Thanks for the push.
     
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    You've only got a few years on me. Yeah, much has changed since we got into it hasn't it? I really haven't changed much of anything that I used to do back in the analog days. This is probably because many of us with our 24 track analog recorders also obtained the first analog to digital processors, recording our mix downs on to a digitally encoded video tape. And then those cute little computers we had that were used to print out our track sheets, could also play cute little sound effects at a very low resolution. And then bang! The whole world changed overnight. And everybody became recording engineers with their PA boards and ADAT's. So a lot of us are still handling our recordings essentially the same way that we did in the analog days by just utilizing digital multitrack recorders. Today, we can take it further and do processing in non-real-time. Then either mixing within the software or laying it back to a sync locked analog 24 track machine or just out the analog outputs to the analog console for mixing in the analog domain. And feeding it back into the computer for the mix down. So I just look at the computer as an extremely compact, virtually unlimited track, multitrack recorder that has all sources fabulous whizbang features. I still love mixing on the analog desk but I don't mind doing things all within the software approximating a fully digital production except for my vintage microphone preamps used to track the project with/through. And in that respect, nothing has really changed except for the huge proliferation through mass production and Chinese wages. Some of that stuff? Not too bad today. Much of it with great sonic value but not particularly built in a rugged professional manner. And parts and pieces of which you will never find once the company goes out of business. LOL. Thankfully there are still those American, British, other Western European manufacturers that have continued their great tradition of not only making rugged professional equipment but the great tradition of the antique circuitry we all grew up listening to that's still the best sounding stuff today i.e. API, Neve, SSL and all of the smaller manufacturers making similar quality knockoffs. What you'll find with most of the knockoffs is that of the first three items listed, they're just trying to emulate most of those three items. And then there are the tube freaks. Which are still great sounding when you're dealing with tubes from China instead of from Telefunken, RCA, Sylvania, Raytheon. So they don't quite sound like those fabulous tubes of the past. They just sound like Chinese tubes, which have quality control and consistency issues. It'll be interesting to see if any of them last for 40 years that some of those other old tubes lasted? I'm still using some 1960s Telefunken's. Maybe even 1950's? Plenty of U-47's with their original tubes still going strong today. Same with my 67's. Unfortunately there is a lot of tube stuff not worth squat. If it's not high-voltage it's time to bolt-age.

    If it doesn't fit you must acquit. I think he fits quite well where he is now. (O.J. Simpson)
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  12. vibrations1951

    vibrations1951 Active Member

    Well Remy I got some years on ya but certainly not the experience. Really wish I had stayed with my dreams back then but it's never too late and I'm willing to die trying...took the long way home!I swoon when you talk about tubes...6l6gc's in my old fender twin...brought that home from "the city" (NYC) when I was 15, had to ride with it on the outside landing between the railroad cars! I'll never forget the rush I felt when I fired it up and watched them babies glow blue! I'm kinda sick that way for sure! Unfortunately, like lots of my stuff from then, got stolen, sold off to get food, needed to get high etc. etc. I'm not about to abandon analog but I really do get how having the best of both worlds is the way for me. No letting me off, guilty, the glove do fit! I belong where I am and he sure does too! Watching him run through airports should have been our first clue!!
    I'm looking forward to your feedback and help when I can get something up for critique...later
     
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    You're getting into the computer thing, one of the easiest and least expensive ways to start off this with a bag of 58/57's and somebody's inexpensive pair of small diaphragm condenser microphones and maybe a single large one. A device that I feel is quite professionally well-built as the PreSonus line of multitrack computer audio interface devices. Nice smooth class A transistor, transformer less microphone preamps. XLR combo inputs accommodate 1/4 inch high impedance guitars and lower impedance keyboard outputs on the 1/4 inch inputs. Includes a package of absolutely dynamite multi-track software with mix down mastering enhancements. Upgradable with other third-party plug-ins. Requires a FireWire capable computer. And then when you want those other really fine front end another signal enhancement devices, a 500 series rack with power supply will allow you to purchase all of these incredible vintage and new modules for one of the greatest smorgasbord of audio treats of your life. Follow the classic and all of the state-of-the-art stuff is coming out in 500 series frame formats. And you can feed those outputs into the 1/4 inch XLR combo inputs on one of those PreSonus devices such as the Fire Studio and other similar devices they make, similar devices others make. No console needed. And a headphone amplifier if more than one musician is involved during the tracking session. And if ya like that old time audio console in front of you environment, many control surfaces are available that will control the software and the computer. And PreSonus makes there was also like their Live series. Very cool. A device I've got my eye on when I sell my Neve. And there are so many other cool new devices hitting the market today, it keeps my head spinning. All stuff is decent today. Not all stuff is great however. I figure we have actually reached a precipice when it comes to how far quality can go from here? Only a revolutionary new technology can surpass what we have today and there is nothing like that on the horizon. Not even decent true digital microphones and digital recording that actually sounds like analog. Not there yet. But it's also much more versatile, lightweight offering capabilities that only computers can think about.

    Looking forward to hearing how you find your way.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
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