Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby ClavAnother » Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:27 am

Does anyone else use the apple reverb plugin?
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby gregwar » Fri May 09, 2014 2:17 pm

ok necrar thread 2 for 2day

swaggy's rap vocal process

step 1) use a condenser, I got a rode second hand for like $140 with a pop filter. position your rapper like 18" or so back, anywhere in 12" to 24" is likely ok try not to be much closer or further than that. experiment with moving the mic stand around in the room for clarity

step 2) the biggest time saver other than getting useable takes is some form of sound dampening. the area in front and behind the vocalist are a 60/40 and 40/60 split. either way just putting something in front helps but also behind. I've used mattresses, couches, duvet/comforters, rugs, baffles, cubical/room dividers, pretty much anything to dampen the reflections

other notes:
track at reasonable levels. do not clip, ever, or be close to clipping. most of us aren't using 5 figure analog desks with 20+ db of headroom so aim for -6 or -12 db peaks.

you now have a main take and background take, both are in time and have similar cadences. turn the background take down about 7-9 db relative of the main take so it only serves to thicken. if it's too loud all the little variances are distracting IMHO

if you stop here and do basic level matching to the beat you can print a demo and it should sound like rap (hence mic, positioning, dampening, etc). the rest is merely polish


3) main plug-in chain
- slate virtual channel on the neve setting. this is superfluous and unnecessary. I don't drive or distort the vocal. modern rap is about 3d clarity not fuzzy distorted tape/console saturation. ymmv

- if the rapper nailed it but the recording is boxy and harsh the waves manny triple d is good first aid. my friend swears by it especially when he only has an sm58 or other dynamic mic. alternative techniques to de-boxy a sound or un-harsh them could fill many threads

- logic's compressor for de-essing:
http://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-co ... esser.html
there's lots of alternative de-essers, like the waves or uad de-essers. this is almost always a necessary step and again could fill a whole thread. if left unattended the Ssss will get really nasty when you boost the high end for clarity.

- uad 1176 with barely anything, just shaving the peaks (any decent 1176 plug-in would work like the softube fet) 4:1 ratio max, the needle in the GUI almost not even moving

- uad massive passive eq. low cut at 120 hz (gunk), a small narrowish boost at 240 hz (voice body), a wide deep cut at 330 or 500 ish hz (mud), another medium cut at 3k (harshness), and a big, wide shelf boost at 12k until it starts to sound unnatural (air, clarity)

the massive passive is based on the pultec, there's lots of pultec emulations to fit every budget some are better for boosting than others tho. another good eq for boosting the air band is the maag eq4 (uad and native), the native instruments passive eq, etc

- uad la2a again on light compression. this technique is a form of serial compression. you use a fet to shave off the peaks and an opto to smooth out the tails. neither is really smashing anything just bringing out the vox so they pop in the mix

- the chain is the same for the main and background vox. sometimes I'll add another eq after everything if I need to cut more out like logic's channel eq but it should be very small cuts at this point.

4) sends
- he first bus is compression. both the main and background takes send at around -10 db for glue. I use the slate vari-mu, it's based off the Fairchild tube compressor. I use medium settings, but I don't smash it. there's other alternative emulations, the key is to meld the background and main takes together

this technique is called parallel compression. you send a track to a bus, use more extreme compression then mix it back in to thicken. I use a moderate setting and mix in a bit more of the send for glue. i find with an extreme smash setting I mix in less of the bus, but I do the smash + less mix for drums a lot

- the second and third bus are for reverb. lately I've been using a short plate for an almost slap-back sound. then a small room for a longer decay with little depth. I'll mix in the main take at around -22 or -24, and the background at -12 or -14. sometimes I use an eq on the verb to remove some mud (around 330-500 hz)

rap vocals are generally in your face so the main take doesn't get much reverb, normally I can barely hear it. the idea is to have enough so it sounds natural but not too much so it doesn't blur or diminish the words. more reverb on the background helps place it 'behind' the main take and make a 3d 'sound stage'

other considerations:
- the biggest problem is clipping vocals. to me that's an auto redo. the second biggest problem is harshness and sibilance. for this you use a de-esser and an eq cut at around 3k. the third biggest problem is room ambience. this is where the 330-500 hz eq cut comes in.

with super basic sound isolation it really cuts down on the mixing difficulty. if you can't get rid of the mud without the vocals sounding like a phone line, you can add a little more slap-back and small room reverb to try and mask it

so that's my rap recording process
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby christianrock » Tue May 13, 2014 6:56 pm

I started reading it but have a meeting in a couple minutes. Then I'll continue, it needs to be read slowly and digested.
Thanks for sharing your process with us, GW :thu: :thu: :thu:
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby gregwar » Wed May 14, 2014 6:38 pm

native eqs

this list brings together a bunch of the best native eqs. lots of the same companies as the compressor list, which isn't a coincidence.

I use the logic eqs for basic correction and my understanding is the ones in most daws are good. this list is for coloration and/or advanced features.

I use sum uad eqs but we'll stick with native for this list. the uad ones are expensive (price and dsp) so I like to have native alternatives

- waves api 550a, 550b are 3 band eqs are simple and sound great like beefing up guitars, snares, etc. the 560 graphic eq sliders and is very useful for additional correction.

- waves v-collection is based on neve and there's a 3 band and 4 band eq. they're great on vocals and other sources for 'sweetening'

- waves puigtec eqp-1a is an emulation of jj puig's pultec in his studio. it's a classic and a great emulation for coloration and broad strokes

- psp noble q is prolly a better pultec emulation, highly recommended (there's also ik multimedia's t-racks eqp-1a which is ok if the others aren't sounding right)

- any decent pultec emulation can do the bass boost trick that makes bass drums and bass lines sound huge. it works well in a parallel bus mixed in to taste

- softube trident is great for coloration like a 'vintage' sound on piano. it's a 4 band eq that has nice saturation

- softube active/passive bundle is great for pultec style passive eq or they're passive/active combo eq is great for bass or the bass bus

- algorithmix is win only but apparently is 'the best' according to a lot of guys I've asked, especially for mastering or final mix treatment

- flux is a close second, total hd quality (and cpu hit). I might buy the ircam bundle if it goes on sale for trax, spat, etc

- fab filter pro-q is amazing. it's super modern and clean (not emulating analog) and has great metering, etc like all the fab stuff for final mix, buses or indv tracks

- dmg audio equality, some say it's the greatest eq and/or their go-to, very highly regarded, pro quality

- abbey road brilliance pack is amazing

- mcdsp 4020 retro eq. they might not have vst versions so they might not qualify for this list (only au and rtas)

- ssl eqs, channel strips, etc. the waves ssl g-comp is nice but the waves ssl eqs and channel strips sound a bit 'thin'. alternatives are ni solid mix and ssl duende bundles

- maag eq4, has the all-important 'air' band that goes from 5-10-20-40khz. it can add 'sheen' to vox without sounding harsh (depending on source material)

- native instruments passive eq models the massive passive it's really musical and sounds great once you learn the quirky controls.

- ni enhance eq is a really bright and clear sounding manley/pultec emulation
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby gregwar » Wed May 14, 2014 7:04 pm

native comps

here's a list of native comps. some give hardware and proprietary dsp plug-ins a serious run for their money

again most daws have great plug-ins included for a wide range of compression needs. this list adds coloration and advanced features

waves:
- cla 1176 and la2a, Kramer pie (rock drums), Renaissance and H-comp (general), c4 and c6 (multi band), ssl g-comp (drum bus, gloss), api 2500 (bus), puigchild (vocal bus), etc

- sonalksis (sv-315 mk II and their sv-719 mk II 'analog' gates), über comp (all their 1 knob plugs are great)

- elyssia alpha and mpressor are tight & clean. the hardware is very highly regarded and these emus are apparently very close

- stillwell the rocket for character, think 1176 and distressor sounds

- psp vintage warmer (old but awesome)

- urs classic comps 1970 (neve smooth & warm), 1980 (ssl snappy & aggressive), their pre emus are great too

- fab filter pro-c. all their stuff is great like the volcano (filter), pro-l (limiter), etc lots of metering and a big, clear sound

- softube cl-1b (character, rap vocals), fet (1176, amazing), opto (la2a), etc they're all great

- ni vintage comps (1176, la2a, dbx 160) the dbx is a go-to for snares and just about everything. they're open, bright and transparent. ni vari-mu is great on the vocal bus

- cytomic the glue is an ssl g-comp for the drum bus or other busses, gloss, 'glue', etc. the additional side chain and hi-pass features are great

- brainworks vertigo for bus gloss, glue, etc plus it has m/s features

- kushaudio ubk is great

- mcdsp 6030, compressor bank, all the mcdsp plugs are amazing. they might only be available as au and rtas/aax (no vst versions)

- ik multimedia has ok vintage comp emus, 1176, la2a, fairchild 660 is ok for vox bus when others don't work

- dmg audio compassion great all-round comp, many peoples go-to

- sausage fattener, hands down the greatest plug of all time. sometimes I'll smash with it on a bus and mix a bit back in to fatten synths
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby gregwar » Wed May 14, 2014 7:12 pm

thanks cr !

I never forgot about this thread it just takes time to hammer out these processes and get it all in writing.

I made these comp & eq lists a few months ago and still stand by them, with a few additions. since I don't own some of these plugs it's based off demos and other opportunities I've had to try them at friends studios, word of mouth, etc

I haven't tried every plug-in ever and every time I see 'best-of' lists around the net I'll try a few here and there, especially new ones that have a lot of buzz. the current state of mixing plug-ins is amazing and we're really spoiled for choice :grin:
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby MetroSonus » Wed May 14, 2014 8:05 pm

all right.. lemme ask, is there anything good for synths? or are most mastering devices geared toward acoustic recording and processing? or is it a case where people take what was out there (said acoustic stuff) and applying it towards purely digital signals?

I hate to say I've been a user of what ever comes with my DAW in terms of mastering stuff and don't know anything about it.
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby christianrock » Wed May 14, 2014 9:15 pm

he said sausage fattener... huhuhuh

Going through all these plugins must have taken you a lot of time. I'll probably never own at least 90% of that list... but it's a good thing to know and have for future reference. And from experience, I know that for you, the fact that you wrote all this, will help you get your ideas organized and remember what you need when, next time you record and mix :thu:

Thanks for taking the time and sharing all this.
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby MetroSonus » Thu May 15, 2014 1:56 pm

he said sausage fatterner? where?!?!?!?!

and let me add in my belated thanks and kudos to gregwar for all of this!
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby christianrock » Thu May 15, 2014 3:03 pm

MetroSonus wrote:he said sausage fatterner? where?!?!?!?!

and let me add in my belated thanks and kudos to gregwar for all of this!


tl;dr???

You gotta read the whole thing, dude :lol: Last line of the whole thing. I think greg put it there to see if we'd read the whole thing or not.
When it's interesting stuff like this, no problem, ntl;r ;)
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby selfinflikted » Thu May 15, 2014 4:00 pm

christianrock wrote:ntl;r


Trufax. :like:
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby soundwave106 » Thu May 15, 2014 4:34 pm

christianrock wrote:You gotta read the whole thing, dude :lol: Last line of the whole thing. I think greg put it there to see if we'd read the whole thing or not.


There is actually a plugin out there called Sausage Fattener. it's being promoted by an EDM duo called Dada Life that I know little about. Reviews indicate its some sort of distorting brickwall limiter, comparable with say SoundToys Devil-Loc but perhaps crunchier.

The marketing is very weird, more personality driven. I'd rather personally separate the crunch and brickwall if I ever needed to (my "preferred tool" would be Fabfilter for one and Ohmicide for the other... for now...), this would give you way more control over the sound. But these days I'm making deep ambient so I really don't use much of either. :lol:
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby gregwar » Thu May 15, 2014 8:48 pm

yes the sausage fatner is amazing but if your using it on a indv channel a little goes a long way ! I like to use it on a bus, like parallel compression, and mix it back in a bit so my synths aren't torched

@metro
are u asking about mastering ? also what are 'acoustic' instruments ? :grin:

anything that enters the modern daw is a digital wave file, regions (the Lego) just point to places on the hard drive where they're stored

keys, synths & samplers are used in just about every genre imaginable (and sum unimaginable)

when it comes to mastering electro vs rock vs ambient vs classical it's about coloration and dynamics. do u want a 'transparent' limiter/eq combo or dirt, tone, etc ? do you want dynamics or a totally bricked wave ?

these type of questions could help guide your decisions
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby MetroSonus » Fri May 16, 2014 6:03 pm

Well what I guess I mean is that traditionally, everything was recorded through a mic. But with synths, usually, they go in right over the wire. And I'm just coming from the assumption that mastering devices / techniques have been largely built up around mic recorded material.

But I guess really it comes down to knowing which tone or color to choose.
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby christianrock » Fri May 16, 2014 6:13 pm

gregwar wrote:yes the sausage fatner is amazing (...) a little goes a long way !


Image

MS - Synths and drum machines attempt to have a frequency response close to what a microphone will pick - I think the main difference is EQ. I'm sure mastering effects don't care much if something's mic'd or not... it'll sound just fine...
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby gregwar » Sat May 17, 2014 2:49 am

metrar I think we've had synths and whatnot for 40ish years and mastering tech has adapted and changed dramatically in that time

microphone sound sources would have ambiences and freq spectrums that may be different from purely wired-in sounds

still once you get past a certain utilitarian 'loudness' and balance whatever processes or tools we use is more a matter of taste at this point IMO
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby soundwave106 » Sat May 17, 2014 3:47 am

Yeah, other than specialty plugins (like, er, the Sausage Fattener) I think things can really be used for either. The big change for synths and DAWs in the last 15 years really has been how parameter automation has allowed some effects and techniques that would've been a major pain in the ass and/or a major cost before, and how the cost of tools has come down so much.

Basically, there are entire genres that would've been major pains in the asses without DAW programming (dubstep and electro) or even impossible (trap), and techniques like sidechain compression / parallel compression that previously required top $$$ analog compressors are now just a drop-in and therefore used everywhere.

You see this in hiphop. It has done some serious merging with EDM in the last 5 years. I mean, this chill Clams Casino bit, that samples Imogen Heap! is a hip-hop beat for Lil B. You have alternative R&B artists like the rising up-and-comer Weeknd which have fully embraced EDM elements for their his take on chill R&B. Even in more "mainstream hip hop", there seems to still be a lot of that "trap" technique (that's being borrowed by dubstep artists tired of dubstep),where looped samples are de-emphasized in favor of bombastic minor key horns and string patches and the impossible-without-a-DAW art of trilling 808 cymbals.The DAW has lowered the cost of entry for all of this and it shows.
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby gregwar » Thu May 22, 2014 7:57 am

I think the elephant in this thread is effects we use on synths. I was thinking about this when metro was talking about mastering plug-ins but generalizing the discussion to creative effects and utilitarian mixing tools

I've seen a utoob vid of a guy demoing a high end eventide rack. he had like the most basic alpha Juno saw or pulse or whatevs going into it then through a combination of algos this amazing evolving sound came out

there's all these saturation plug-ins from pro tools heat to slate to uad. plus tape sims, tranny and diode clipping to all-out mayhem like ohmicide, inear display and permut8 with filters, buffers and extreme mangling. these can be sweet for dirtying up in-the-box vas especially the d16 silver collection

reaktor is by far my fav synth and I often take really bizarre stuff and turn it back into more normal sounding hip pop rap beats. I think a good basic rule is to turn off the built-in effects for most patches

this dates back to my roland d550 (rack of the d50) with it's crappy reverb and chorus on like every preset. all the way up to waldorf's blofeld plug-in with huge, hyper spacial chorus and reverb effects. when combined with other tracks, just causes a mess but sounds great soloed and makes great demos in the store lol

some really great bass effects are lowender and the voice of god, but you really need to hear and tune them carefully. some great special effects are the Valhalla shimmer, retro verb and uber mod. I use the ocean way plug-in on kontakt strings and horns a lot for added realism

thoughts ? what are you folks using ?
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby soundwave106 » Thu May 22, 2014 12:39 pm

gregwar wrote:thoughts ? what are you folks using ?


In the ambient that I am doing recently, my go-to plugs are the Valhalla stuff (Shimmer and Vintage in particular, Ubermod somewhat as well), Cytomic the Drop for some sculpting / frequency chopping, and Empty Room Systems Dimension D for a nice sim of the Dimension D's subtle chorus.

Generally speaking, yeah, turning off the built in effects is a good rule, as in general the built in effects are not what I want.
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Re: Best of the Best: Mixing Plug-ins and Techniques

Postby christianrock » Thu May 22, 2014 7:27 pm

I'm using very few effects so far in my DAW. When I find something I like I tend to stick with it.

What I do know is that the built-in effects in Maschine are teh suck for the most part. Or maybe I'm just not good at tweaking. I'm used to rack effect units and it's very hard to get DAW effects to sound anywhere near as good.
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