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Would Too Many Tracks Cause Peaking?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Patrowe, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. Patrowe

    Patrowe Active Member

    Hey RO community,

    I've been searching around for someone with a similar problem as myself, and I can't figure it out.

    Smile by Patrowe on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

    Attached is a recording that I created with my friend. For that recording, I used my SM-57 (point n' laugh later) and a Tascam USB interface. I recorded all of the tracks mono and used my DAW (Sony Acid) to pan them to create as open as a sound as I could. Each track solo sounds fine... no peaking except for one part (the "build") on the acoustic track, but it doesn't sound noticeably muddy there. I was wondering, could too much activity cause the track to become muddy? And if that's the case, how could I stop that and make it clearer? I recorded three-part clarinet at the end and that seems to get muddy as well over the entire track, but once I isolate them they sound perfectly in-balance as I intended them to. Maybe it's just one of those trial and error things, or maybe it's the availability of decent gear. Whatever the case may be, does anyone have any suggestions?

    Thanks, Patrowe.
  2. bouldersound

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

    You mean clipping, not peaking. All audio signals have peaks.

    Whenever you double the number of tracks the level increases by about 3dB. If you have sixteen tracks recorded at -12dBFS then they will sum to approximately 0dBFS, at which point you are out of headroom and the signal will be clipped if it goes any higher.

    For the current project just lower all the faders. In future be sure you are tracking low enough to avoid running out of headroom.

    The muddiness you're getting sounds like low-mid buildup. Who cares what your tracks sound like isolated? What matters is how they all sound together. Try cutting some lows or low-mids on the tracks that sound muddy in the mix, or on other tracks that may be conflicting in that frequency range.
  3. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    That was excellent advice.

    Keep in mind that each instrument should sit in it's own sonic space. Use EQ to "carve out" the spot where each instrument should be.

    For example a bass part and a bass drum part can occupy the same sonic space and create mud. Find where the bass drum generates it's sound and work with those frequencies. It may mean cutting bass, mids, highs, etc. Do the same for the bass, guitars, synths, etc. even vocals.

    Don't be afraid to cut instead of boost.

    In a nutshell...everything cannot be louder than everything else.
  4. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    While the concept is correct, it is difficult to say that 16 tracks at -12dBfs will sum (even approximately) to 0dBfs in a music mix because there is also a frequency aspect to the summing function, along with transient duration. Now, DUPLICATE tracks of, say, a 1kHz sine wave peaking at -12dBfs will approach full scale LONG before 16 tracks, and probably around 4 tracks.

    Cheers :)
  5. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member


    Sorry GZsound, but this is not the goal. The goal is to FIT everything together in a musically cohesive sound. Something totally different.

    Cheers :)
  6. Patrowe

    Patrowe Active Member

    Peaking, clipping.... Recording nub here, but hey, it's all about trial and error.

    So I get what everyone is saying, about making sure each instrument has it's own "space" in the recording. I noticed that I panned both of the clarinets and the shaker to the left while I put everything else to the right side. Also, I recorded this before I really got into how the EQ on ACID worked, and just played with some of the presets to get what I thought would be a balanced mix. I'll look towards tweaking each track's EQ at this point... As for instrumentation, would you guys leave it to common sense regarding the EQ "space" for each individual instrument? Bass/kick low end, acoustic somewhere in the middle, electric higher than the acoustic, etc... Any feedback would be excellent... thanks everyone for the quick response! :)
  7. Patrowe

    Patrowe Active Member

    Thanks for the advice! I put all of the faders back at 0 dB and started fresh.... The muddiness went away! Thanks for pointing that out... As for the EQ, I did have a few instruments occupying the low and low-mid spectrum.... I am now trying to clean up the EQ for that part as well. Thanks again Boulder!
  8. audion00b

    audion00b Active Member

    do a quick google about "Masking" and "Compression" ..i had the same problem. It worked for me.

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