Original - pre vocals basic tracks critique please

DogsoverLava

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
Thanks guys -- I want to say the nasal sound of the vocals was my tribute to Oasis but I'd be lying -- I have a deviated septum that was confounding me a little during the session and I need to develop a more adapted technique for my next attempt that is more self aware when the issue arises. I'll see if a little m ore specific EQ will help this a little for this pass. Really working on the importance of the quality capture - and better capture techniques.... slowly but surely.

In subsequent mixes I've added a little compression on the vocal and it has helped. I'm going to try to ride the fader as suggested -- wondering how you guys do that ? Working with envelopes in reaper allows you to draw/graph the trim control. Is this all trial and error -- listen and relisten stuff or are there tricks to identifying areas that need particular attention?

The BBQ thing works for me -- I was going for a loose gospel, breezy feel -- left some of the harmonies loose (in terms of note cutoffs etc) to add to that, as well as the sing-songy element of the acoustic guitar arrangement.
 

DonnyThompson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Location
Akron/Cleveland, OH
Lots of engineers use volume envelope editing to refine vocal performances, I've done it myself many times, the most common scenario usually being when I'm dealing with a vocal track that is somewhat uneven, which is most commonly due to a performance fault during the tracking.... although occasionally, it can also be caused by someone "riding" the input gain to the track during the recording, by whomever was engineering at the time.

If you are going to draw volume envelopes, my suggestion ( and it's just a suggestion - others may disagree with me) would be to do so while you have a compressor inserted into your lead vocal bus, so that you can get a better idea of how it will sound in the final phases.

I know there are many guys who like to edit the vocal first, without any processing (namely GR), but I think it helps to work with your reduction engaged while you are working on a track, or, for that matter, even when you start to mix.

There are many engineers who prefer to mix and add gain reduction afterwards, as a final step... but personally, I would rather mix into a compressor; I feel it gives me greater control over the entire mix field, and also prevents me from over-compressing as well.
 

DogsoverLava

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2014
Location
Vancouver
Lots of engineers use volume envelope editing to refine vocal performances, I've done it myself many times, the most common scenario usually being when I'm dealing with a vocal track that is somewhat uneven, which is most commonly due to a performance fault during the tracking.... although occasionally, it can also be caused by someone "riding" the input gain to the track during the recording, by whomever was engineering at the time.

If you are going to draw volume envelopes, my suggestion ( and it's just a suggestion - others may disagree with me) would be to do so while you have a compressor inserted into your lead vocal bus, so that you can get a better idea of how it will sound in the final phases.

I know there are many guys who like to edit the vocal first, without any processing (namely GR), but I think it helps to work with your reduction engaged while you are working on a track, or, for that matter, even when you start to mix.

There are many engineers who prefer to mix and add gain reduction afterwards, as a final step... but personally, I would rather mix into a compressor; I feel it gives me greater control over the entire mix field, and also prevents me from over-compressing as well.

This was my instinct as well - for now I've just put a light (and stock) Reaper compressor on it using a preset and the vocal smoothed out immediately. I'm going to sit with this for a day or so until I can sit down and remix with a critical ear and post the results. I'm also going to re-EQ the lead vocal and see if I can give a bit more body to the tone. My mixing environment is improving and I've moved my files to a Standalone PC that is quieter and more powerful than my laptop.

I'm still working my head around compression vs limiters - still trying to fully understand compression as well (getting inside the settings)..
 

DonnyThompson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Location
Akron/Cleveland, OH
DOL...

Attack and Release times aside, which is explained further below, the only difference between a compressor and a limiter is the ratio(s).

I'm going to let SOS help me to explain it.

A Limiter is intended to limit the maximum level, normally to provide overload protection. This involves setting a threshold close to the maximum desired audio level, and using a very steep ratio (anything above 10:1).
What this means is that the input signal has to go 10dB above the threshold before the output will rise 1dB above it. And in practice, that means that the signal doesn't exceed the limit threshold to any significant degree.

A Compressor is used for less drastic, more creative dynamic control, and tends to use lower ratios; typically 5:1 or less.
For example: using a ratio of 2:1 means that for every 2dB of input level above the threshold, the output level only rises by 1dB, so the dynamic range above the threshold is halved.

The only other significant difference between a compressor and limiter is that a limiter tends to have much faster attack and release times, so that it can respond to brief transient peaks very efficiently, and without affecting the rest of the audio signal.
(This is model dependent, though... for example, the Fairchild 670 has a lightning-fast attack time, but can be set to have release times as slow as 25 seconds... and no, that's not a typo... I really did say 25 seconds ).

Compressors tend to be set up with a slower attack specifically so that they don't squash the attack transient on percussive sounds. They also usually have a slower release so that their gain changes are more gentle; more like pushing a fader up and down.

As far as nomenclature, they are in fact, all variations on the same thing... which is Gain Reduction.

The term 'leveling amplifier' is really just another name for a compressor. It was the popular name back in the '50s and '60s, and stems from the idea that a compressor is used to "level out" variations in volume.

You will often hear of models - like the LA2A - described as "leveling amplifiers", and it's not incorrect to describe it this way, because that's what it does.

But, it can also act as a Limiter as well, depending on how you set it, how hard you drive it and to what extent you set the gain reduction.

Okay, onto the song...

First off, I really like the song, it's kinda Allman Brothers meets Clapton meets The Band. I like it... a lot.

I won't comment on performances, just the mix.

Are you mixing through cans or speakers? If speakers, what kind are you using?

The lead vocal seems to have quite a bit of low mids happening, making it "boomy" sounding. Off the top of my head, I'd say probably between 180 and 260... that's a guess, of course. I'm also hearing these low mids being accentuated by the reverb you are using. This may be because of the type of verb you've chosen, or, it could be that this particular verb has a lot of energy happening in that low mid region as an inherent part of the particular patch you are using.
Also, quite a bit of sibilance on the LV, too.

Backing vocals seem to share the same issues.

The snare sounds far too compressed to me, it's really squashed, and virtually disappears around the 1:00 mark ("life goes on"). I understand you're not looking for a huge "Led Zeppelin drum sound" here, but you can have a laid-back feel and performance without having the listener have to struggle to hear the drums. Just because it's mellow doesn't mean that the drums shouldn't be present, and right now, they're really not... truthfully, they are all but non-existent in the mix.
This could be as the result of too much compression, or, it could be a simple volume level change is needed, although I can hear quite a bit of compression on the snare (when I can hear the snare, that is).

I think you may need to walk away from this for more than just one day... I suspect that you're probably burnt out on it, and you need a fresh approach to the next mix. You might wan to put this away for several days, and then re-approach it.
And, if this doesn't help, it might come to the point where you have to consider letting someone else mix a version for you.

Believe me, you certainly wouldn't be the first mixer to have to do that with a song.

Ask me how I know. ;)

FWIW

d.
 
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