Skip to main content
Content Management System

Talents Headphone Bleed During Tracking

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!

Comments

Boswell Tue, 12/16/2014 - 03:47

In a live situation, bleed is something you work with. It's not usually a problem from headphones or even from floor monitors if you are careful, since the main trouble is original sound sources getting into mics other than the one you have set up for them. But the crucial point is that when it's live, it's all the same take (the only one). There is no difference in tuning, rhythm, solos etc that you get in a studio on overdubs by musicians who have come to see not getting it correct first time as their right.

bigtree Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:18

Boswell, post: 422372, member: 29034 wrote: In a live situation, bleed is something you work with. It's not usually a problem from headphones or even from floor monitors if you are careful, since the main trouble is original sound sources getting into mics other than the one you have set up for them. But the crucial point is that when it's live, it's all the same take (the only one). There is no difference in tuning, rhythm, solos etc that you get in a studio on overdubs by musicians who have come to see not getting it correct first time as their right.

Bos is precisely following. (y)

And I'll say it again, Bleed is a good thing if its in time. But when its not, and when its accumulating by means of overdubbing, consider this an essential look into your next mix. Bookmark this thread.

Next time you are mixing. Take a deeper listen to the headphone bleed in all the tracks, normalize the levels to study how they are sounding and lining up.

Without being rude or suggestive we are all loser's here, I doubt many of us are fully aware of what this is really doing. I guarantee mass thinks they aren't subjected to this like I was. Think again. I make a living at this section more than I should even be sharing.
The moment two bleeds are out of sync, is 1 too many.

My point here, it took a bad version of this to get me to look deeper into something I am now blown away from. Knowing this will add another (that 2% towards wow). This is one of those dark distractions fooling us to look elsewhere when mixing.

Kurt Foster Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:33

this is a perfect example of why we should make decisions and then stay with them .... practice "proper" techniques to avoid issues.

when i track, i like to get takes with the whole band and then go back and punch in to fix a few clams (usually the bass) .... in this case, phones are not necessary unless requested ... do several passes and then edit different passes for the perfect take. decisions made, problems avoided.

i think a lot of these kinds of problems happen to home hobby recordists who are recording by themselves. they may not be aware of what they need to do to get useable tracks.

it might not be a popular thing to say but if i were accepting projects, i wouldn't touch something with these kinds of issues. i would tell the client to do it over right. even when recording by myself, i can get tracks sans phone bleed ....

for example; when recording guitars or keys, record direct then re amp ...

pcrecord Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:01

audiokid, post: 422404, member: 1 wrote: And I'll say it again, Bleed is a good thing if its in time. But when its not, and when its accumulating by means of overdubbing, consider this an essential look into your next mix. Bookmark this thread.

In theory, any bleeds (live through monitors or through headphones) could become a problem depending on the distance and how loud it is from the mic.
Of course it's a lot worst if you copy and paste stuff around and/or time drag ...

bigtree Tue, 12/16/2014 - 12:18

Kurt Foster, post: 422405, member: 7836 wrote: this is a perfect example of why we should make decisions and then stay with them .... practice "proper" techniques to avoid issues.

when i track, i like to get takes with the whole band and then go back and punch in to fix a few clams (usually the bass) .... in this case, phones are not necessary unless requested ... do several passes and then edit different passes for the perfect take. decisions made, problems avoided.

i think a lot of these kinds of problems happen to home hobby recordists who are recording by themselves. they may not be aware of what they need to do to get useable tracks.

it might not be a popular thing to say but if i were accepting projects, i wouldn't touch something with these kinds of issues. i would tell the client to do it over right. even when recording by myself, i can get tracks sans phone bleed ....

for example; when recording guitars or keys, record direct then re amp ...

Without doubt Kurt.

But, that pro world is diminishing; or lets say, the home studio and "2 track at a time" might be the most popular method for musicians to make music today.
I will say it again, there hasn't been one mix (recorded on a DAW) where I didn't do something because of some timing issue bleeding / phasing out.

To expand, one of the worst offenders, contributors to sss and spiky upper mids is a direct correlation between cymbals/ hats and vocals. Which, are often in bleed that has been altered from the original passes. So, what we end up with are bleeds that should be there to add a constant and natural sync now changed. This not only creates a weird change in volumes, the slight changes from overdubs now create a swirly effect like two instruments of the same duplicated and shifted by a byte that randomly swings all over the map!

Its a huge problem.

Maybe.... why vinyl, tape, analog, old school etc all sounds better. Follow me? The gear back then didn't allow us to edit so much. We played the stuff through instead of what I am now pointing out as possibly the sole reason why digital audio sounds so unnatural to us.

OMG, the new generation edits everything. Thats all it is. One big edit path where nothing is real. Listening to the headphones is a game changer.

Here is a secret weapon that I've done for years. When I produce something and have the opportunity to play my guitar, I will track my performance start to finish and hide it in the background. I do this so there is something that ( maybe even subliminally) adds a sense of real to the music. I swear its a mojo maker.

DonnyAir Tue, 12/16/2014 - 13:54

well, all that may be. But ...one of those demo tracks I posted that you said had audible heapphone phasing, I didn't even wear headphones on... the 414... Because I was only doing half a verse for sake of analysis, I didn't bother to monitor the DAW playback. In fact, I didn't even have playback running. I recorded it a ccapella to a blank track on a new project line... so, I dunno.

FWIW

bigtree Tue, 12/16/2014 - 14:41

DonnyThompson, post: 422418, member: 46114 wrote: well, all that may be. But ...one of those demo tracks I posted that you said had audible heapphone phasing, I didn't even wear headphones on... the 414... Because I was only doing half a verse for sake of analysis, I didn't bother to monitor the DAW playback. In fact, I didn't even have playback running. I recorded it a ccapella to a blank track on a new project line... so, I dunno.

FWIW

Well, there ya go :barefoot: . I said it sounded like it could be headphone bleed or combing? I hear walls and some weird phase or questionable combing that doesn't sound like the mic's alone. Just a guess but it sounds like around a 4ft to 6ft distance that is producing a combing effect on both mics.
I isolated the suspect freq, saw a similarity and posted this. So, I'm at a loss for you then. Its hard to pin down something I have know idea where its originating from, to boot... what you or others don't hear as well. Go figure... o_O
FWIW, headphone bleed has a very similar effect to what I'm hearing in the upper mids of both. You said it was a texture of nodes removed? I have no idea. I thought I heard this same upper mid on another vocalist (in a past mix of yours) so I was really hoping we nailed in down. Simple easy fix (y)
The vox's alone do include close walls and a low ceiling. I hear a combination of these issues in the both.

In a mix, it all gets washed around and maybe its hardly even worth worrying about.

bigtree Tue, 12/16/2014 - 14:48

DonnyThompson, post: 422418, member: 46114 wrote: well, all that may be. But ...one of those demo tracks I posted that you said had audible heapphone phasing, I didn't even wear headphones on... the [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.akg.com/C414+XLS-1…"]414[/]="http://www.akg.com/C414+XLS-1…"]414[/]... Because I was only doing half a verse for sake of analysis, I didn't bother to monitor the DAW playback. In fact, I didn't even have playback running. I recorded it a ccapella to a blank track on a new project line... so, I dunno.

EDIT: My opinions are subjective to my workflow, as a mixer receiving or using a system such as mine.

Could be why I preferred the 414 in some regards. It has more size to work with, hybrid. The Tube however, sounds better as is (no hybrid after) because it is masking some of what I hear in your room and sits better, as is. My final opinion, I prefer the mid range of the tube but have more hope for the 414 if I was inserting an LA2A on the stem and mixing it through my process. That being said, the Tube would be harder to bring it up front in a mix, compared.

My way of thinking, the tube version would then have a smaller spectrum and suffer because it becomes an issue of supporting the weakest dominant in the mix. That is, if you want the vox to be out front in a balanced texture sort of way.

Cheers!

DonnyAir Tue, 12/16/2014 - 16:48

I wasn't doubting you on the room, Chris... I'm sure the spare bedroom I'm using to record in isn't the best choice.

The 5k-7k "edge" you are hearing that bothers you and Marco is my voice. I've been told by many others about it for many years, some dig it, some don't.

After I had the throat surgery, I lost about a half-step of my top end range, and about a step on the bottom end (so I can't sing quite as high by a half step and I can't sing quite as low by a whole step). I didin't really mind all that much, I was kinda tired of singing Journey and Triumph songs anyway - LOL - But, what I gained ( for better or worse) was a rasp - that I thought would go away with time - or at least that's what the Doc thought, and while it receded a little, it never left completely....and, i short time, I discovered that within the rasp was a harmonic - in that 5k - 8k range you're pointing out.

So, what you are hearing is me hitting the note pure with one voice, but on top of that is a "second voice" which is that added edgy harmonic.
(If you listen to some early Van Halen, you can hear Roth has added harmonics to his voice is well - although I don't know if it's because of surgery or just his natural voice).

I don't have as much of it in my speaking voice, but when singing, it's very evident. It gets edgier - or a bit smoother - depending on what range I'm singing in.

There's not much I can do about it; I can EQ it out to an extent, but then the overall tone suffers. I've tried isolating and notching it with the narrowest Q possible, but as you know, that only works if I were to sing only one note - LOL - and because I'm moving around on a melody line, the edge harmonic drifts... it's really hard to nail down.

I think the 414 probably serves me best - at least for most vocals - because it's more transparent than the tube, which adds its own edge - and on my voice it can become too much, because I'm already edgy..

As far as the reflections, I can start tracking in my mixing room, where I'm sure reflection will be far less because of the traps, BB absorbers and diffusers I have installed - I just normally don't like to track in there because of the other everyday noises that are common - computer, power supply fans, etc., plus, that room sits on the side of the house where the road passes by... cars going by on wet pavement don't really bother me much when I'm mixing, but when I've got a hot mic set up to track, some of that stuff inevitably leaks through.

As for the voice, I'm kinda stuck with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and it also all depends on who is listening. It's about a 40/40 opinion either way, with the other 20% not noticing, or not caring one way or the other.

I guess I'm just gonna have to keep singing in different mics to find the best match, although I can start tracking in my treated room - which I'm sure will help with the reflections you were hearing; although that won't do anything to improve the little devil that lives in my throat. ;)

bigtree Tue, 12/16/2014 - 17:42

DonnyThompson, post: 422424, member: 46114 wrote: I wasn't doubting you on the room, Chris... I'm sure the spare bedroom I'm using to record in isn't the best choice.

The 5k-7k "edge" you are hearing that bothers you and Marco is my voice. I've been told by many others about it for many years, some dig it, some don't.

After I had the throat surgery, I lost about a half-step of my top end range, and about a step on the bottom end (so I can't sing quite as high by a half step and I can't sing quite as low by a whole step). I didin't really mind all that much, I was kinda tired of singing Journey and Triumph songs anyway - LOL - But, what I gained ( for better or worse) was a rasp - that I thought would go away with time - or at least that's what the Doc thought, and while it receded a little, it never left completely....and, i short time, I discovered that within the rasp was a harmonic - in that 5k - 8k range you're pointing out.

So, what you are hearing is me hitting the note pure with one voice, but on top of that is a "second voice" which is that added edgy harmonic.
(If you listen to some early Van Halen, you can hear Roth has added harmonics to his voice is well - although I don't know if it's because of surgery or just his natural voice).

I don't have as much of it in my speaking voice, but when singing, it's very evident. It gets edgier - or a bit smoother - depending on what range I'm singing in.

There's not much I can do about it; I can EQ it out to an extent, but then the overall tone suffers. I've tried isolating and notching it with the narrowest Q possible, but as you know, that only works if I were to sing only one note - LOL - and because I'm moving around on a melody line, the edge harmonic drifts... it's really hard to nail down.

I think the 414 probably serves me best - at least for most vocals - because it's more transparent than the tube, which adds its own edge - and on my voice it can become too much, because I'm already edgy..

As far as the reflections, I can start tracking in my mixing room, where I'm sure reflection will be far less because of the traps, BB absorbers and diffusers I have installed - I just normally don't like to track in there because of the other everyday noises that are common - computer, power supply fans, etc., plus, that room sits on the side of the house where the road passes by... cars going by on wet pavement don't really bother me much when I'm mixing, but when I've got a hot mic set up to track, some of that stuff inevitably leaks through.

As for the voice, I'm kinda stuck with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and it also all depends on who is listening. It's about a 40/40 opinion either way, with the other 20% not noticing, or not caring one way or the other.

I guess I'm just gonna have to keep singing in different mics to find the best match, although I can start tracking in my treated room - which I'm sure will help with the reflections you were hearing; although that won't do anything to improve the little devil that lives in my throat. ;)

Gotcha! I actually have a similar problem that ended my singing career early on. My Wisdom teeth became impacted and abscessed without me knowing. I was getting sick all the time but I had no pain. Eventually after years of suffering, constantly becoming sicker and sicker, I thought I had cancer and was heading fast towards kissing angels.
Having no family left to help support me, I had to keep working to live, 6 nights a week city to city. My voice and health took a brutal beating which eventually scared me for life. The constant infection turned into Quinsy, which in a nut shell, is an infection that closes off your throat. Without a hospital near by to lance my throat , you are done. It damn near killed me had I not made it to a hospital.

About that time my sister was just finishing Dental school and suggested I come to see her Prof. They took one look at the X Ray and put me under, carved those babies out! Within two weeks I starting feeling better than I ever did my whole adult life. But, I lost my voice because of this preventable tooth thing.
My voice has a similar freq that almost adds a second octave. Its weird and it also hurts when I push. When I swallow, part of my throat doesn't quite close. Its all internal, meaning I look normal but I am fucked for life.
It forced me to sing lower for another 12 years and eventually I had to get off the road. Smoky bars and 6 nights a week is a closed chapter. thus, I am here today pretending to be a mixer and so it goes...

I know what its about. See, I told you we had more things in common.

bigtree Tue, 12/16/2014 - 17:54

Unless you have a "stellar acoustic room" I would without doubt track in a treated control room any day of the week. Find ways to isolate your fans. I use a PCAudioLabs CP which has rubber shocks on the drives. Its super quiet! Maybe you have an option to use those rubbers?

Also, build a small enclosure if that helps, or put foam around it. Look online for this ot even buy a different CP BOX. there are options!
Create the vertical space using virtual effects over goofing around with a boxy room. Those how say, you can't do, it, I disagree. I got of that trip long ago. Create space rather than living in a box. Isolation and effects will put client money in the pocket.

bigtree Tue, 12/16/2014 - 18:03

JohnTodd, post: 422427, member: 39208 wrote: Interesting thread. Can someone tell me how to deal with can bleed when I myself record? I gotta have it loud in the cans or I just can't hear. My hearing tests show me as having normal hearing. Is it psychological or am I doing it wrong to need it so loud in the cans?

Get excellent cans to start with. And, study what headphones bleed is doing to your mix. Hearing is believing.

Track soft and learn to listen at low levels!!! I cannot rave about this enough. I use phones just loud enough so I can hear the effects I need. My tallent hears their voice naturally as well as in the phones. Its not a fun learning curve but the results are better pitch and way better sound! You learn to appreciate it. I never used to do this until I discovered how bad bleed really is.

This is of course not possible for everyone. I mean, if you are in business of recording, you can't fight people's habits or comfort zones. Being aware, you at least aren't trying to fix something that isn't possible. Or, whats causing you to spend money on better mic/s etc. Something this simple might all be caused from the above.

JohnTodd Wed, 12/17/2014 - 04:15

Thanks, audiokid.

My singer is an example, too. On stage he sings just fine, but in the studio, he is a bit pitchy. I know he does good on stage because I've reviewed videos of his performances. But in the studio, not as much.

But hey, we only have one pair of "studio" cans between us. Turns out both of us use my cans when tracking vocals.

I don't think it's the cans, but could it be? They are Senheiser HD215. Good sound quality, circumaural, closed back. They don't bleed at regular levels, but they do bleed at "my" loud levels.

Also, am I misunderstanding something about the cue mix? I just put stuff in the cans to listen to. I'll strip out some of the complex keyboard parts, and dwell on drums/bass/guitar and click in the cans. No FX on the singer's voice. Am I doing it wrong?

I've even done this: One can off the ear, and audio cue sent ONLY to the other one that is on the ear. Minimizes bleed nicely when he is singing, but my loud levels still bleed when I sing.

Somebody help! audiokid is gonna get tired of dealing with all my blood spilled out everywhere. Especially since I love to overdub lots of BGVs! With the same mic, preamps, cans, singers, and mediocre sounding rooms!

Boswell Wed, 12/17/2014 - 06:51

To cancel out the bleed, you have to perform a differencing operation between a performing take and a "quiet" take that's identical in terms of what's playing into and the position of the phones but the performer does not perform any singing or playing. If you sent exactly the same phone track both times, you would have to subtract the "quiet" take from the performing take to remove any bleed. If you were to invert the phone track before sending it to the phones, you could numerically add the two resulting tracks and the bleed would still cancel.

x