fat tracks

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by backountry, Mar 19, 2004.

  1. backountry

    backountry Guest

    a few months back i replied to a thread about making tracks fuller. a moderator from this forum responded with the statement that he was surprised that i was not getting phase problems.

    since that time i have tryed short delays (mono/stereo, 2 to 8ms) on aux faders mixed back in with the original tracks. i have duped the original tracks, to which i applied compression and mixed it back in. additional stacking would have included applying compression and eq to another track and mixing back in. several combinatiions of these have been tryed at times along with outboard reverbs. all of these did fatten up the tracks but at a cost. all of my effects are plugins with the exception of two entry level reverbs. every addition of a plugin degraded my track quality. today i am back to square one and in search of answers to my original track fattening techniques, which leave me with cleaner sounds. an original fattened track example would be as follows:

    (1) original track...panned down the center
    .............................volume level set to the mix (let's say -2db)
    (2) duped track.....panned rt. at 8/12 (pro tools pan settings 0-100 L/R
    .............................volume level about 6db below original track
    (3) duped track.....panned left at 8/12
    .............................volume level about 6db below original track
    (4) duped track.....panned down the center
    .............................volume level about 12db below original track

    i am not understanding why this would cause phase problems. i appreciate any and all replies to track fattening. as always many thanks in advance.
  2. djui5

    djui5 Guest

    duplicating tracks can induse some strange phase problems for some reason.

    What are you trying to fatten? Guitars?

    Delays work well...as do chouruses, busing a track out to a compressor and bringing it in below the original track

    I can tell you that panning something on top of something else won't fatten anything and will cause problems. Try panning things around...maybe one track slightly to the right..another slighty to the left...another at 9 and 3.....another at 8 and 4.
  3. backountry

    backountry Guest

    thanks for the reply randy.... i x/y stereo mic my acoustic guitars so i seldom have much need for fattening those tracks. it is mainly the vocals that sound thin and tube like that i am trying to fatten up. since the vocal is so critical, it seems that whatever i do to fatten them comes back with baggage in the form of muting or frequency shifts. this in turn requires additional plugins which just seems to compound the issue. for the record i am using wave and bombfactory plugs mostly. possibly the fact that my computer is a p3 at 865mhz has a lot to do with it but i don't push plugin usage for this reason. just trying to relieve a little brain swell due to constant ponding of it on the wall.

    :? terry
  4. djui5

    djui5 Guest

    What kinda mic are you using? That might be the source of your problem...as might be the pre-amp your using.

    If you don't have any options...then I'd try boosting a few db around 300Hz for a little bottom on the vocals..this will fatten some. Also you could use a pitch shifter pitch the left up one and the right down one...then blend with the original vocal...this will fatten up a little.

    But first thing you should try before any EQ or FX...is to compress the vocals. Have you tried that yet?
  5. backountry

    backountry Guest

    hello randy

    my condenser mic options are the at4060 tube mic and the akg3000. my pre-amp options are art pro channel tube pre, protools le 100, mackie 1642vlz pro.

    many of the directions that you and i have posted here seem to reference directly to "the mixing engineers handbook" by bobby oswinski. this was some serious reading for me when i was first warned of possible phase problems with my orginal techniques. he did not reference my technique above but i did try all that he had written about in this book. for clarification they did work well for fuller sounds, but either the plugins introduction of degraded sound or amplification of recorded track deficiencies, kept me from accepting what i was getting. the band i am tracking is an acoustic band. (folk, country, soft rock) we do some line in work (bass, special lead guitar sometimes) but most everything is mic'd.

    i started a series of tests today to try and narrow this down some. first test was to take the technique above (original) and record each track to an individual stereo track. i enlarged the stereo waves and compared each to the original track. what i saw was; all peaks were the same as the original, of course amplitude was lower on the duped tracks with decreased volume. assuming that this is a good test, and that phasing issues will show up as, out of sync peaks/dips, i have to think that maybe like (small delays, short decays), small panning of duped tracks could be usable. open for corrective replies here on my thoughts. i have also been told to add a plugin with an inverse polarity button on the tracks and see what sound change i get when i a/b it.

    as for compression, it is a very useful tool that i plan to use very much in the future. i have used the waves L1 and L2 as well as joe meek plugins. the L2 and joe meek hold good marks with me but for this project i am hoping to maintain the dynamic headroom of the tracks if at all possible. with this thought in mind i was using the L2 very sparingly till i saw the need to go in search of this tube-like/muted sound.

    respectfully terry
  6. Screws

    Screws Active Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    Home Page:
    If all you're doing is duplicating a track and mixing it back in with the original track, you're simply increasing the volume of the original track. An increase in volume will absolutely sound bigger, fatter, whatever.

    Test this by muting the duped tracks and simply increasing the volume of the center track by 4 to 6 db. See what I mean?

    EQing, compressing, adding effects, delays, reverb or even mild to moderate distortion to a duped track will allow you to be mixing two DIFFERENT sounding tracks together to give a fatter, brighter, more even or more interesting sound.

    Keep experimenting! The more you play with the sounds, the better it gets.
  7. djui5

    djui5 Guest

    Here's an idea. Try tracking another vocal take with the singer whispering in monotone the original vocal track....then mix it in so it's barely audible. That'll help fatten the track a little.

    The 4060 should fair you well..it's a great mic and sounds great on a lot of vocals.

    The L1 and L2 are limiters. You might want to see about using a compressor with a ratio of about 3:1...140ms of attack and release set to 1/4 notes track tempo, soft knee. This won't take away from the songs dynamics but will help the singer stay in front by controlling the peaks. Also be carefull of what types of reverb you add to the vocals as some can "thin" the vocals out.

    Sorry I can't help much more...but it's hard without hearing the tracks. If anything do a second vocal take and use Vocalign to line them up so there's no chorusing and pan them to 11 o clock and 1 o clock. This will give you fat wide vocals.
  8. djui5

    djui5 Guest

    Another thing...have you listened to the tracks outside of the studio? It might be a tuning problem with the rooms acoustics that your hearing.
  9. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    If it's a rock gig, try recording the singing an octave lower - doesn't have to be a real singing voice... as long as the pitches can be heard and aren't out of tune. Normal talking volume works. Bring up the volume on this track until it can barely be heard, then cut it by a few dB.

    Sounds silly, but it actually works. And since it's at that 'barely audible' stage, you can butcher the sound silly and nobody will notice. Time adjustment, pitch correction, super-mega compression and/or saturation... as long as the frequencies an octave lower than the lead vocal's frequencies are sort-of audible, you get that neato effect.
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I think I was the one that mentioned phase problems. But weren't you saying you were adding a few milliseconds of delay? That is where the phaseing issues lie.. You will only hear these problems when you collapse the stereo program to mono. If there are phaseing problems, the cancellation will cause a loss of volume and fattness ... In a worst case, the sounds will completly cancel themseleves out ..

    Screws is spot on when he says by dupeing a track and the mixing it back in all you are doing is increasing the volume.. The human ear percives the louder elements and sounding better due to the Flecher Munson curve effect. At louder volumes we hear the highs and lows better. At lower volumes, the highs and lows roll off.. 85dB is where the human ear is at its most accurate.

    The best thing you can do to fatten up tracks is to have the singer get into the mic more and work the proximity effect. A bit of compression is good to.. I like the fastest attack and release possible @ 2:1 or 4:1 and I take off at the most, 4dB. This is very mild compression and I use it for almost all of my tracking chores except drums..
  11. tripnek

    tripnek Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    I have realised over the past year, with much difficulty I may add, that it is very difficult if not impossible to get that "killer fat sound" with out the proper equipment. Quality mic > quality mic pre > quality compressor/limiter > quality converter/tape deck. This stuff costs big bucks but if you just take the plung you wont need all these different techniques to get that fat sound. As long as the source is good, you'll already have it. The mic you have covered with the AT4060. Great mic. Mic preamps are very important in the chain. Since you already have a "Tube" mic, I'd suggest a solid state amp like Vintech, Langevin, Amek, Api, Great River. And I can't stress enough the importance of a "Quality" compressor. I tried several cheap ones and several plugins. All added too many artifacts especially if you needed to compress more than 2-3db. Even the RNC which was hailed by so many people just added to much grit if I had to hit it hard. I finally bit the bullet and busted out the credut card AGAIN. I bought an 1176 and the Langevin Dual ELOP. I could not believe the difference in the sound and clarity.
  12. backountry

    backountry Guest

    first, to all that replied, i thank you very much for your thoughts. i do take all replies very seriously. i will push this thread one last time if you will bear with me.

    kurt, screws: i am not trying to be a smart a** here, but i feel the only way to learn is to express personal feelings and experience and see how they way up to others. as for the orginal duping and PANNING technique that started this thread, i agree that it is increasing volume. i have heard this reply several times in the past. i feel the need to respond as i hear and see this. most moves we are making in the mix are directily related to increases and decreases of volume. what i feel that i am hearing at my mix position but not necessarily always at the cd, is a fattenning that i relate to panning and not a volume increase. the before and after spl are relatively the same. to exaggerate the move, imagine a track panned down the middle at 0db, dupe it and pan it to the 2 o'clock position and reduce the volume to -10db. my audible image of this, at the mix position, would be a dominate sound down the middle but with a wider image to the right. the right image being lesser in volume would be creating, for the lack of a better word, a tail to the original sound. now if you group these tracks and lower the volumes to the same spl as the original track, you still have this audible image. once again, i am not defending the technique, but i am trying to see if there is any merit for it.

    tripnek: i believe you are hitting the nail on the head. i have been fortunate enough to try several of the top plugins and my impression is as yours. i have no idea where the art pro channel preamp sits in relation to others. it was one of my first purchases and would not be a choice if i were looking today. i think it's compressor is more transparent than digi, waves, and bomfactory. but would also say that it does not add any sparkle either. but like so many others, i have to ask how much is enough for a hobby?

    i think with the advent of 24 bit 48/96k digital, the increased dynamic range has improved our studio sounds tremendously. as we project babies get involved we expect to get reasonable returns as with analog reel to reel days. what i think we all misinterpret is the increased dynamic range is capturing sound that usually includes reinforcement for room acoustics, (line in) gear quality. the plugins and entry level equipment added on mix just compound the returns. this compounding is also bring forward the negative sounds we have captured.

    once again thanks guys
  13. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Try this.
    Make a copy of your original track that you are trying to "fatten". Assign it to a pair of subgroup bus's. Do your treatment as you discribed and bus them to another pair of subgroups. Match the volume of the two pairs of subs. Mute one pair of the groups and listen to the other pair. Switch between the two pairs. You will hear no difference. It's all mono and as long as the volume is the same and there is no tweaking of the eq's both pairs will sound identical. What you are hearing is a change in volume ....

    Kurt Foster

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