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Headphone Bleed Concerns

Discussion in 'Recording' started by audiokid, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    How much does headphone bleed concern you?

    A folk group I was mixing months back had an upper freq problem that drove me nuts. After listening for hours, trying to de-ess but at the same time trouble shoot for the sake of "next time they go into the studio!" it will be better than this mess!

    I continued asking the producer to keep trouble shooting what the high end swirl was caused from, he blamed the recordist, the gear "" then I finally discovered multiple vocal takes had various version of headphone bleed. So I asked him, "did you sing harmonies to lead lines that aren't here now, or that were changed? Pitches aren't lining up on bleeds." o_O

    In other words, the final harmonies I am mixing, were sung to a lead line now scratched. This was the same for guitars, bass , drums etc! How do I know this? Again, because I hear those tracks from headphone bleed.

    What this was is a work in process that became a song ready for mixing and mastering.
    This is a common way many people create music in a studios today. We build a song and instead of actually learning the whole thing over, redoing it all over again start to finish, we leave it and mix it best we can.

    There is a major problem with this and its in the headphone bleed.

    The bleed from all these parts is still in the background. It can be so soft on one track but throughout mulitple versions as described above, will cause all sorts of upper freq swirling effects that become a de-essing nightmare..

    Does this make sense?
    I hear this all the time. The nightmare of digital editing and headphones bleed. Its in most tracks I get here and maybe we should be talking about this a bit more?

    Usually the worst of it gets chopped out during the silent parts so as a mixer coming in on something blind, you don't hear it all.
    Why do you think we have so many issues with sss?

    Imagine Hi Hats ticking away in everyone's headphones. They are cutting through the headphones and capturing how many times?
    They are in the lead vox, harmonies, guitarists playing to vocals and drums etc. Start over dubbing, moving tracks around, compounding this. Now we have parts of parts, aux bleed along with instrumental bleeds, even bleed being picked up from the acoustic guitar box's adding low end and out of sync, out of tune parts to this. I mean, they are acoustic instrument with different days that obviously aren't tuned exact to the last session.
    It would be fine if everyone was playing all together but how many of us do that anymore?

    The Harmonies and lead lines get sung and pieced together from all sorts of takes of guitars, drums, harmonies etc all the time but how many of us really know what this does to the phase and transients. You can't autotune out of tune vocal bleeds so be sure what you play to, is the vocal track you are keeping, because if you don't, even though you changed the vocal down the road, the deleted one will still be tracked on some part . These accumulates like a virus.

    If you've ever lined 2 tracks up by finding the top of the peak. I do this with headphone bleed. I will often listen to the bleed on tracks and line the headphone ticks up. Does this ever teach you something about phase and where ss are coming from!
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I had a few problems with bleeding but not to the extent you are talking about Chris.
    Problems when artists would change the song and decide to do a quiet part with a recording that wasn't before.
    When you mute the instruments to create that quiet part, those instruments are still present in the headphone bleed.
    I also had a few deaf drummers who would ask for very loud clic.

    I bought some vicfirth headphones that I use when ever I feel bleeding may become a problem (soft vocals, accoustic guitars and drums)
    They are a pain to wear because they are tight and warm but they do the job well.

    That is a serious problem and I'm not sure how I would go at it. Of course a gate or track edit would take care of silent parts but if you hear it with the performance, I would use minimal to no compression and maybe try to EQ out the most problematic frequencies. Or I would try to figure out something with RX4, like the dereverb and denoiser...

    Attached Files:

  3. Reverend Lucas

    Reverend Lucas Active Member

    Sort of a long shot here, but could you cancel out the track that's bleeding?

    Here's the idea, assuming you have the track played through the headphones still on file.
    1) Reverse-eq the track to account for the frequency response of the headphone drivers/muffling by head/response of mics as closely as possible
    2) Invert polarity of the signal
    3) Mix in the signal to as close to null as possible.

    Has anyone tried anything like this before? Does it do more harm than good by introducing garbage to the mix? I suspect that it would be more effective on simple, repetitive signals (clicks and things) than full programs.

    I'm not speaking from experience here if you couldn't tell;)
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Doing what you say, it would be better to record the instruments through headphones bleeds again (the same if possible) and then use that as a nulling track...
    It's an interesting idea ! ;)
  5. Reverend Lucas

    Reverend Lucas Active Member

    That would be a much simpler and better way to do it.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I've got a few EX 29, Extreme Isolation, they are really good headphones like that. They don't sound that great but are very quiet and avoid this, indeed. I'm sure the studio who tracked that band needed better for sure. And maybe the band wasn't holding then tight, who knows.

    However, this is a problem with the mass most people aren't aware of, and what its doing. To what extent is dependent on how well you isolate and how much we overdub. I hear this all the time and have tricks to deal with it but the above was a pinnacle moment for me because I didn't realize how bad it can really get.

    Bleed is a good thing when its together as a band. The small freq bandwidth that bleeds from headphone pushes upper mids throughout, but an EQ or side chain can deal with that pretty easy. But once we start over-dubing, those slight pitch and phase changes changed, including the now changed ticking on other tracks create phase, they are the worst.
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm pretty certain many of us haven't thought of this, or hears it as a problem. Being a mixer, you are hearing other people mixes. When we record only ourselves, there are a lot of things we don't know about our room, techniques etc.

    Consistent bleed isn't that bad and is easily dealt with. The culprit bleed is when we track to different version. The mix ends up having audible various versions of now removed overdubs. You cannot remove this. Its there playing in the background like a ghost.

    Example: Band plays together. Acoust Guitar is out of tune but everyone else is good (for now) ;)
    Recordist get the guitarist to redo the track. He plays to his last version and gets it close enough.

    But, now his new version is different than what was bleeding on the original tracks of everyone. Follow? We now have two versions of acoustic guitar . One that is good on the Acoustic track and bleed from the bad track, still part of the rest of the bands track. Start compounding this now. Mashing up everyone like this. Its a huge problem.
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I've done this sort of bleed correction in the past in the same way as I have taken out floor monitors: do a bleed take while replaying the monitor track at exactly the same volume, asking the performer(s) to keep completely still and silent. After the take, subtract the bleed take from the performance take. It's not perfect, but it can work where the bleed or feedthrough is really bad. It won't work to cancel out a badly played or out-of-tune part.
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Right, which is usually why most overdub. Someone is off.
    I've heard tracks where someone will autotune or use melodyne to correct the loud stuff, leaving the bleed still there. Client leave it like that and you now have pitch corrected overdubs with out of tune bleed. They'll do this to 20 tracks!

    I've heard this on stems released by record labels for remixes. When I get the stems, its impossible to do anything with it then. At that point, its all mashed up and compressed to hell.
  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I was thinking of trying something like VocALign for some time to better align backvocals. I guess it would make things a lot worst with the bleedings...
    I think those are the things you don't really worry until you have a problem ! ;)
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Spectra Restoration tools can get some of this but its pain staking and no matter how we try and clean this up, it effects something else. The best solution, once we have produced music that has all the creative parts right, if you can, retrack everything over with as little overdubbing as possible. It another reason why tape sounded great back in the day. It wasn't the tape, it was we had to be good enough to play from start to finish with less overdubs than today.
    pcrecord likes this.
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    reading this thread it just occurred to me the tools have created the need rather than the other way around. ironic.
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Exactly Kurt! , "less is more". Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. To me, its all about source and conversion. After that, its the issues with summing and capture and playback systems.
    I hardly use plug-ins. 48 tracks running, I might have 8 plugs running. Samplitude is really the Cadillac for dealing with issues right on the suspect spots which is "Object Editing" . Basic EQ curves and filters are my thing. Even with my analog chain, very little is happening, its there for charter augmentation. Most everything I do is based around filters and M/S approach which is simply a way to tidy up the congestion we can't hear well on one box.
    One of the most confusing things I just can't get my head around is why people need so much DSP with a list of 100 plug-ins. Pro Tools, what a marketing machine.

    Marco, I've never looked at this:

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4xsFxDhDgE
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Cool plug-in but I would do this process manually by lining up the peaks and listening to how each phrase glued to the rest of the audio in a mix. I will often have to crossfade sections, move and reverse as Bos described to null because bleed might not syncing with the current tracks that were replaced (overdubbed). Part of my workflow as a mixer is repairing bad punch-ins, clicks and tails left, bleeds effecting the phase, most often very obvious between words or beats.

    This is a great audio example of what's happening with bleed, but the product doesn't address removing bleed because on tracks we want to keep. The direct problem is the someone during the recordings "bad out of tune bleed" is part of the tracks we want to keep. And so it goes.
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    That's exactly what I do now. But the product seems to do it very well without noticeable artifacts.
    Thing is, this discussion about bleeds make me realise that doing it manually or with vocalign may not be a good idea unless the headphone bleeds are very low.. When copy paste and sliding stuff in time. It's surely can build up a mess in the background...
  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    wait! ......wait! ........ i'm getting something ....... channelling from a "different" wavelength .....

    "downward expansion ........ sm57 .............. sm57 ....................downward expansion ....... noise gates ....... "

    now i'm really scared!
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I don't get it? :)
  18. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Are you trying to revive Remy's account kurt ? ;)
  19. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    no, not at all ...... frequency dependent compression .... oh sh*t! it's happening again!
  20. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    I've been using Beyer Dynamic DT100 old school headphones for years. Had to replace the original worn out vinyl pads with the new comfy cloth ones a few years ago. Only exception, Sony HDR750 (I think ) for drummer, because the BD's are high OHM, I think 400, very quiet sometimes.. I have never understood how anyone could let bleed from headphones become an issue, always seemed natural to eliminate any issues from it, IF present.

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