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Dry Stems Question: What are they and how to prepare and present them?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by DogsoverLava, Nov 7, 2016.

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  1. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    Aug 6, 2016
    Lowell Massachusetts
    I just want to say something while I'm thinking of it.

    I think VST's are perfectly fine. I think for people like myself, who enjoy this general field (making, playing, producing music) there is no other way. I can't drive a lot of the time (I'm just so drunk) I don't have the money for real drums, mics, etc. Nor do I have a place for them. Nor would my wife be cool with it.

    When I'm playing the Rolands, I'm playing drums....it just triggers an electronic signal instead of a direct sound. In other words, I don't think of it as cheating, or being less musical. They are being played, not sequenced. That's why I got them, bc I hate sequencing. It's painful imo. I need my feet and sticks involved or it feels very....sterile? Plus it's my favorite instrument to play, but it's the instrument I have the least experience with. It's the one I have the most fun with, but haven't gotten much time with until now.

    But what I wanted to say is that, the more time I spend here, the more I want to try it sans VST....or more like you guys. I really want to play with a hw compressor and mic live instruments etc. I'm basically here a lot of the day back reading (I have 4 screens) I just finished the glossary of terms lol. (Stem is not in there ;^)

    So I don't think of VST's as cheating? But the more I do all this back reading, and learning more about the way YOU guys do it, the more I want to try it. Or at least incorporate what I can afford.

    So much equipment, so much interest, so little money lol.
    kmetal likes this.
  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    well, not all of us work without plugs.
    I use them all the time. ;)
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2009
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Home Page:
    There definately isn't. I think a lot of the issue with lack of commitment is we can't easily use your neato super zoom pluggins on the way in. It's either bone dry (in most cases to some built in pre amp) or thru a console. Having a high class chain composed of select units for tracking is a luxury.

    Uad is getting into printing your settings on the tracking side of things.

    Analog vs digital aside when you print your tracks your doing some of the mixing as you go. Things overall blend better and there's less correction after the fact. Also less processing means less degradation and CPU power.

    If I can print the guitar with a nice tight notch on a whistle I would.

    I started on a portastudio so I was used to printing eq. Having a nice channel strip is something I like very much for tracking these days. Pre amps are only part of the equation. I really dislike the whole capture dry thing, unless the song/track calls for it.

    One of the big advantages of the master/slave configuration is you can dial in your synth sounds with effects right at the time of performance. So when you print to audio there is work done already.

    I'm curious to see where tracking ends up in another decade.

    I think any proficient engineer of our day could hang w those guys.

    Many many of those records were recorded by the same season guys in rooms without a ton of gear, which means you new it well.

    I think they worked harder on songs that required tons of editing (like butch vig changing the tempo of a smashing pumpkins song by editing the tape, shaving a bit off each beat..) but I don't think that happened much back in the 50's-60's. You had really great players, timeless gear, and decent tracking rooms.

    I think they did very well as far as mixing in unfit rooms and limited range speakers.

    They also had full record company budgets. lol like the Beatles renting 3-4 of the abbey road studios for months/years, so each member had free reign.

    They had limitless takes if needed too.

    So I think maybe they worked harder on some things but others they had it easier. I dunno if they were actually 'better' or 'just different'. I do think standards were higher all around.

    One thing they did do was mix and track with their ears. Lol novel idea i know, but that's probably the most valuable skill from the golden era recordings.
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