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So, I've been recording this band, and we were after drum takes. Typically we would end up with 5 takes, and then load the 3 best into Protools to edit between. The drums sounded really good through the monitor section of the console we were using (I don't say this to brag, it's actually an important component of the story). The Producer was very happy with the drums off tape.

So we load the drums into Protools from tape, and then the Protools guy takes the files to another computer to edit as we continue recording other songs. After we're done with all the takes, and most of the songs are edited, we are ready to do some over-dubs.

We transfer the edited versions into the Protools rig in the room. I set the faders in Protools to unity level, and listen to the drums through the console again. I was not critically listening for differences between tape, and ProTools as that was not a concern of mine. Suffice it to say, the drums still sounded good through the monitor section of the console after the transfer.

So now we're moving at a clip, and we load up another song record some overdubs, and then another and record some over-dubs. On the third song, I'm trying to set the fader levels, and I'm having trouble. All of a sudden, for some inexplicable reason, the drums sound like shit. Really bad, and not just to me.

The Producer is looking at me, and asking me what happened to the drum sound. So I start messing with EQ, and levels for a couple of minutes, and the sound is drastically off from what it had been all day long. I was having a very difficult time compensating for this sudden difference in sound quality.

Then, a lightbulb went off in my brain. I knew what it was. In less than 30 seconds, I fixed the problem, took off all the EQ's, and reset the faders. The drums were back to the form they had been all day long. The Producer was relieved. The second engineer plainly heard the difference in sound quality.

What was the problem?

Mixerman

miketholen Sun, 04/22/2001 - 18:24

So now we're moving at a clip
What? a Clip?!? does that mean fast?
On the third song, I'm trying to set the fader levels, and I'm having trouble
Trouble setting levels? huh?
I don't know why PT would automatically sound like shit, I would imagine it would sound like shit all the time! But you said you liked what you heard from the other songs so maybe they all sound like shit.
:D
Is this some sort of riddle? or an oxymoron?
I use Tape w/Tools all the time and have never come across your situation other than PT alway sounds like shit so I Consider it "Par for the course".
Mike ;)

Mixerman Sun, 04/22/2001 - 19:05

Originally posted by miketholen:

So now we're moving at a clip
What? a Clip?!? does that mean fast?
On the third song, I'm trying to set the fader levels, and I'm having trouble
Trouble setting levels? huh?
I don't know why PT would automatically sound like shit, I would imagine it would sound like shit all the time! But you said you liked what you heard from the other songs so maybe they all sound like shit.
:D
Is this some sort of riddle? or an oxymoron?
I use Tape w/Tools all the time and have never come across your situation other than PT alway sounds like shit so I Consider it "Par for the course".
Mike ;)

Stick with me here. (Clip means fast, yes)

It sounded acceptable off of ProTools for 3 songs. True, I would certainly have preferred it directly off tape, but that was not an option, as it was edited and we needed to stay in ProTools (why is irrelevant).

Same drums, same room, and they sounded good going down. In fact, the drums sounded fine coming off of ProTools. (OK, perhaps not ideal, but nothing that mixing couldn't compensate for so let's not get bogged down by that). There was a drastic change in quality of sound after OKing the sound of the drums off ProTools earlier. The drums sounded good the song before, and the drums sounded good after I realized what the problem was. Everyone in the room heard the difference. It was obvious. If I was the only one that heard it, I wouldn't even bring it up.

What happened?

Mixerman

hargerst Sun, 04/22/2001 - 19:18

Ok, I've never ever worked with protools, but solving a problem always gets me. Doesn't protools and most of these computer programs save stuff several levels deep so that you can undo easily? I'm guessing that there were so many levels of changes from finished songs being saved, you were running out of horsepower on the next song till you flushed all those temp files (or whatever they're called) out of the system.

If that's not the answer, I'll come up with something else.

Mixerman Sun, 04/22/2001 - 21:29

Originally posted by Jay Kahrs:
Were you mixing drum levels and EQ in Pro Tools and not the monitor section of the console?

There was no EQ in ProTools.

BUT, yes the drum levels were changed in ProTools by the editing dude. The levels were set for a stereo output which he was listening to for editing. As soon as I put the levels at unity gain, the drums magically sounded good again.

Now, question number one. Who thinks I'm full of shit, that there would be absolutely no difference?

Question number two. Assuming you believe me, why does changing output levels within Pro Tools, with individual outputs one per input of the console, drastically change the quality of the sound?

I'm not talking a little bit here, folks. Everyone in the room heard this difference without even listening for it. So don't discount it for sensitive ears. That's not what it was.

Mixerman

Ang1970 Sun, 04/22/2001 - 21:54

Ooh, ooh... pick me!

Did you have gates and compressors across all the channels? (Somehow I doubt that would be the purpose of this thread, but would be rather humorous. Much more so than what I think you're getting at.)

anonymous Mon, 04/23/2001 - 03:00

Very interesting problem, fascinating solution. My question to you is why didn't you cut the damn 2"? You can always leave it in the box until you mix, but there is no way on God's grey earth that P-T will have the impact of 2" on a drum track...especially one that's been left in the box.

You were cutting together sections from 3 different takes? Unless you had to reassemble the drummer a bar at a time, it shouldn't have taken more than an hour or two per song to do it with a razor blade.

Better your gig than mine...

alphajerk Mon, 04/23/2001 - 05:03

could it be the low level bit dithering to the individual outputs? maybe lower volume resulting in less resolution on the way out the individual outputs? or maybe simply louder=better, increasing the level to unity would obviously yield better results, especially going out to an analog desk where your headroom would be seriously affected.

[and checking the pt faders for unity gain when independantly running them out is a no brainer]

and whats up? cant the band do one good take? they suck so bad you gotta splice three together??? :D

MadMoose Mon, 04/23/2001 - 06:48

Originally posted by Mixerman:
There was no EQ in ProTools.

Question number two. Assuming you believe me, why does changing output levels within Pro Tools, with individual outputs one per input of the console, drastically change the quality of the sound?

Is it a two part? #1 I'm guessing it has to do with the internal math of the Fool Tools tracks being at lower then unity gain.

#2 If the tracks are lower then unity gain wouldn't you be using less available bits from the D/A's and therefore have a drop in resolution? So rather then getting 20 or 21 bit's your getting 12 or 13 bits. Am I close?

Member for

51 years 4 months

Kooch Mon, 04/23/2001 - 07:38

Been there, done that--same results. Direct i/o always sounds better with Pro Tools. Not sure why. I could guess that it was 24bit audio being mixed internally to 24 bit stereo. Nasty. You CAN get better results by leaving faders at zero, placing good plugs like Waves stuff (giving you headroom in 48 bit-world) and using them to set/ride levels--still going straight individual outs. In fact, you should try this MM, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. If you don't have automation on a board, this is a decent way to go. But, I'm sure you don't ever have that problem, huh? :p

Is the summing math on digital boards better? I've barely used an O2R once, wasn't able to make a real judgement.

Mixerman Mon, 04/23/2001 - 08:19

Originally posted by Fletcher:
Very interesting problem, fascinating solution. My question to you is why didn't you cut the damn 2"? You can always leave it in the box until you mix, but there is no way on God's grey earth that P-T will have the impact of 2" on a drum track...especially one that's been left in the box.

You were cutting together sections from 3 different takes? Unless you had to reassemble the drummer a bar at a time, it shouldn't have taken more than an hour or two per song to do it with a razor blade.

Better your gig than mine...

This gig wasn't in LA, (in fact it was in the middle of nowhere) so for a variety of reasons, including time restraints, artists preferences, the fact that the only thing we were using from the studio was the room itself, we even had to get another console, we had no choice but to put it on Pro Tools (this isn't even the half of it, you're just going to have to take my word on it).

You KNOW I would have preferred to cut tape. And you know I would have preferred to stay analog. It wasn't the way to go in this case.

Mixerman

Mixerman Mon, 04/23/2001 - 09:22

Originally posted by Rog:
You mix in PT? Seriously? :)

If this was a comprehension test you would have failed. I think you need to re-read my posts. I was taking individual outs from ProTools into the monitor section of an analog console.

Mixerman

Greg Malcangi Tue, 04/24/2001 - 01:53

Hi Mixerman,

What version of PT were you using?

If you were using version 5 there was a nasty memory leak problem, where closing and opening different sessions (songs) could sometimes produce weird results like the one you mentioned.

If this is not the problem I don't know what is. In more than 6 years with PT I've never experienced the problem you describe. The only way to recreate the problem that I can think of would be if the tracks were recorded at low level, then placing the faders at low level (somewhere near infinity) and compensating with gain to the monitors. Under these circumstances you could well hear the effects of quantisation errors, especially if you have an older version of an 888/24 which only has 20bit D/A converters.

>

I can't speak of other computer programs but PT doesn't do this. That's one of the reasons multi-level undo has always been a problem on PT but also why it is so stable. The original files in PT are never changed. Even applying an audiosuite plug doesn't change an original file, it just writes a new permanent one.

Greg

Rog Tue, 04/24/2001 - 07:07

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Mixerman:
If this was a comprehension test you would have failed. I think you need to re-read my posts. I was taking individual outs from ProTools into the monitor section of an analog console.

You only mention this in your third post. If you're gonna set questions, set them. Once and once only and no updates.

Seems you failed a very basic test yourself.

realdynamix Tue, 04/24/2001 - 10:28

Well, if your were at unity gain, including the PT, than I don't know. If you you were at higher levels on the PT, which is actually recommended, than could your name be Rumpelskiltskin, and could the integration of analog to digital and back have something to do with it? But, why would that take a whole 30 seconds to fix!! Just charge it back to the client. Keep's those producers on their toe's.
--Rick

MadMoose Tue, 04/24/2001 - 10:50

Originally posted by Rog:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Mixerman:
If this was a comprehension test you would have failed. I think you need to re-read my posts. I was taking individual outs from ProTools into the monitor section of an analog console.

You only mention this in your third post. If you're gonna set questions, set them. Once and once only and no updates.

Seems you failed a very basic test yourself.

Nope dude. You failed. Re-read Mr. Mix's first post. Here I'll quote it for you.

So we load the drums into Protools from tape, and then the Protools guy takes the files to another computer to edit as we continue recording other songs. After we're done with all the takes, and most of the songs are edited, we are ready to do some over-dubs.

We transfer the edited versions into the Protools rig in the room. I set the faders in Protools to unity level, and listen to the drums through the console again. I was not critically listening for differences between tape, and ProTools as that was not a concern of mine. Suffice it to say, the drums still sounded good through the monitor section of the console after the transfer. >>

I understood what he was doing. A lot of other people did to. It's all good, but you weren't paying attention.