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Author Topic: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )  (Read 10260 times)

ArtSta

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #30 on: May 15, 2015, 12:19:57 pm »

Gentlemen, I am very sorry for being that late.

First of all really nice track, quite original, interesting male and female voices (especially that one starting at 1m03s).
Ok, the mix. The strong point of the mix was female vocal and relatively dynamic verses with supportive male vocs, and nice, dynamic transitions between verses and choruses. Female vocal has actually real power (but it's a little bit edgy in the mix).
The weak point was stereo image, phase issues and compressed choruses with a vocals on top of them.

The mix was on a little thin side, with a bit weird image (imo too wide a bit, tracks mixed in a way that bright side of guitars and vocs went to the left channel and their body mostly to the right channel), with added some distortions (especially that one at 1m55s) and a kind of phasey/watery sound (i.e. at 0m20s). Oh and 's'-es (they actually made any HF lifting a little bit tricky).

I assumed that the stereo image mixing decisions were intentional for some reason (it's hard to think otherwise based on that what was done).

So I tried to accent the mix's strong points and to bring more guitar melody (focus on guitars tone instead of just plucks). To add some body I used parallel compression that adds nice low/mid weight and some eq tweaks to make the track sound a little less boxy, but more snappy.

The settings:
Parallel compression (ITB) CL 1B:
Th: -12dB
Ratio: 3:1
Att: slow
Rel: almost fast (09:30)
Mix: -22dB at verses, -17dB at choruses.

De-essing ITB, UAD De-esser:
Th: -25dB
Freq: 6.08k
Split: on
Speed: fast

EQ (OTB) 250:
+3dB @30Hz, Q: 0.7
+0.5dB @220Hz, Q: 0.5
-1.5dB @780Hz Q: 2
+1dB @1.2k: Q: 0.5
+2dB (+2.5 at choruses) @18k: Q: 1

The chain: Parallel comp-DAC-250-ADC-DS. Yes, there's no limiter.

And finally I have listened to all of the supplied tracks.
And below are my notes.
I also thought about your notes Nick. First of all, I think that if you're comparing just mastered files with no relation to the original mix actually you have no point of reference. However, this is how people usually compare tracks (i.e during shootout), so your point is also valid and likely is of a real world example.
I've made a little investigation regarding this pumping/moving like effect you reported. It is audible esp. on tambourine when vocals or acoustic instruments come in, vocs also suffer. It looks like mix compression triggered by its events (low content from right channel impacts bright side of it on the left) and also supported by phase issues (some pretty audible at the begining of choruses) again due to mixing the same signals with different freq
content to left and right channels. Anyway, more bright masters (Nick, fuse, Kayo) seem to mask these effects a bit (but imo reveal more phasey highs instead). As I lifted HF (while bringing low mid/mid region for body) to a small extent because I didn't want to affect naturally sounded instruments too much (esp. guitars and tambourine), the effects/issues were just more evident here.

Ok, my notes.

Hermetech:
I like:
- the way you preserved the mix tone, especially vocals body and power, master sounds just bigger!
- microdynamics

I don't like:
- just a touch too boxy (maybe just -0.5dB in 500Hz or so region would likely be it)
- wider image (M/S in action ?) than mix's one (already too wide imho due to vocs existent all over the place)


Kayo:
I like:
- the overall balance, resulting very nice vocals sound (clean, but not tiring, dynamic, but not aggressive)

I don't like:
- a little lack of body (maybe just +0.5 - 1dB in 200Hz region would make it sound perfect)
- a little too much 's'-es


BiigNiick:
I like:
- overall kind of smooth and warm tone,
- no boxiness featured in the mix,
- deessing, very nice one!

I don't like:
- low end, just a touch too much or too much rounding (woolly) or both, transients lost their impact a bit,
- verse to chorus transition lost impact,
- a bit too much perceived highs on verses (perceived because the master is not the brightest, but there's likely a too deep dip in mid/hi-mid region making highs more pronounced), thus tambourine sounds quite unnatural that way
- instruments sound too thin a bit (they lost some body)
- vocals lost their body too, they're now a little too thin (compare them to the mix esp. on choruses),
- solo instrument sections lost their snappyness a bit (again I suppose a little to much mids were cut).


Fuse:
I like:
- overall tone, although on a little thin/edge side, but you've made instruments more snappy, brought more 'air' and vocals more 'in front', so you actually accented good sides of the mix!

I don't like:
- a little too much highs, especially apparent on verses
- a little too much 's'-es
- something is happening at 2m03s-2m07s (kind of distorion- from compression ?, mids brought up could also lift distortion from the mix here)


As I reported some tracks too bright on verses I used just another point of reference (some well mastered recordings) to make sure.
Overall all differences (most found on verses) are on a subtle side, being a subject to taste actually. Well done!

Art
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BiigNiick

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #31 on: May 20, 2015, 01:17:30 pm »



BiigNiick:
I like:
- overall kind of smooth and warm tone,
- no boxiness featured in the mix,
- deessing, very nice one!

I don't like:
- low end, just a touch too much or too much rounding (woolly) or both, transients lost their impact a bit,
- verse to chorus transition lost impact,
- a bit too much perceived highs on verses (perceived because the master is not the brightest, but there's likely a too deep dip in mid/hi-mid region making highs more pronounced), thus tambourine sounds quite unnatural that way
- instruments sound too thin a bit (they lost some body)
- vocals lost their body too, they're now a little too thin (compare them to the mix esp. on choruses),
- solo instrument sections lost their snappyness a bit (again I suppose a little to much mids were cut).







Art, thanks for all the great feedback!  Lots of things on your don't like list were also on my don't like list too.  Almost all of them were byproducts of fixing other things in the mix and were the lesser of two evils.  the 's'-es on the vocals were one of the biggest struggles.  although i think they were smoothed out well in my master, the casualties of that effort were the solo instrument snappiness (could have bypassed the deesser there maybe?) and the unnatural sounding tambourine. similar things with the smoothness and loosing impact/transients/body etc...  lots of that can be personal preference.  i think the window of acceptability is wide for most masters.  in a perfect world i could fix everything! ;-P




again, i really enjoy the WUMPs.  it's always good to see how other MEs approach the same mix and then have a discussion about it.


thanks everyone,
 - nick









Hermetech Mastering

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #32 on: May 21, 2015, 03:19:21 am »

Hermetech:
I like:
- the way you preserved the mix tone, especially vocals body and power, master sounds just bigger!
- microdynamics

I don't like:
- just a touch too boxy (maybe just -0.5dB in 500Hz or so region would likely be it)
- wider image (M/S in action ?) than mix's one (already too wide imho due to vocs existent all over the place)

Thanks for listening and commenting Art! Will have another play and see if a little dip in the lower mids helps things. Yes, I did increase the stereo width with M/S volume (I think it was -0.6 in the M channel), I thought it sounded OK so left it like that, but I can hear what you mean about it being too wide.

KAyo

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #33 on: May 21, 2015, 10:47:27 pm »

Great feedback Art.
Appreciated the walk through and complete insight.

Making the WUMP truly unique.

BiigNick: I have to get my hands on some cool Portico at some point. Thanks for the feedback..


Ciao'
KAyo

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ArtSta

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #34 on: May 27, 2015, 01:14:37 pm »

Art, thanks for all the great feedback!  Lots of things on your don't like list were also on my don't like list too.  Almost all of them were byproducts of fixing other things in the mix and were the lesser of two evils.  the 's'-es on the vocals were one of the biggest struggles.  although i think they were smoothed out well in my master, the casualties of that effort were the solo instrument snappiness (could have bypassed the deesser there maybe?) and the unnatural sounding tambourine. similar things with the smoothness and loosing impact/transients/body etc...  lots of that can be personal preference.  i think the window of acceptability is wide for most masters.  in a perfect world i could fix everything! ;-P

Nick, the 'don't like' list maybe just looks like there's lots of things in there, however I think that all of them were the outcome of more or less single decision. I am not sure if it's deesser thing, because it impacts rather high freqs, I would rather bet on mixture of tape and those -2dB @ 950Hz and -2 @ 3.7kHz cuts where the rest of the Wump pack have put more attention (I think that 950 is the important region for these vocals and 3.7k is in presence/snap area). I can see you also set 2s release on compression so it might be possible that compressors were in permanent GR state (btw. I noticed that some gear, even the most known/used one, is usually doing some GR (or modify signal envelope in some way) even if it's not indicated on VUs or display).

We have just different taste and that's good. It could be pretty boring if everybody would response to the same flavor only.
I am pretty sure many listeners would choose your master for the warm tone or tape sound even if some dynamics were impacted.
My approach was different, as I am quite sensitive to acoustic instruments sound (and this was actually an acoustic piece) I focused on instruments tone and some strong points of the mix (like strong female voc, transitions, etc). I'm also moving toward less fixing but more focusing on good elements.

To add more comment, personally I would not choose tape for this project. Tape affects signal envelope, on choruses attacks were already almost completely lost in original mix. Tambourine is pretty demanding for recording (I am always full of big respect to those who mastered acoustics instruments recording, it's and art on and of itself!) and playback equipment as it can have very short but strong attack (depending on instrument usage and artists playing style of course). Unfortunately such an attack was already tamed in the mix, so any smoothing (like that one from tape) actually brings more sustain/decay (and HF) part of tambourine sound and cause its further definition deterioration (well sometimes it is intended to place instrument somewhere in the back).

Bringing HF content up could be also very tricky in this mix, not only because of 's'-es. If you focus on some mid/hi-mid ringing (existent in the mix) you might hear processing in action (like from compression on parts that triggered it) that was rendered to the file during mixdown and can be easily exposed more. I haven't reported it in my dislikes list as I wanted to stay away from obvious (and likely unfixable) mix issues in my opinion.
In this mix tambourine was also mixed to be a little behind vocals. When one brings more HF he/she actually puts this instrument more in front (up to the point it may even sound distracting from the performance), changing the mix balance.
There're also phase issues that add their own to the picture.
So, any HF boosts bring such issues to the table, but in different increments. And that's why I did not play much with HF (well, at the expense of exposing other issues too- and it was actually good observation from you).

Anyway, this was a difficult mix (but great performance). Lots of compromises to choose and/or to make, every single one has its own best context.

Thanks for listening and commenting Art! Will have another play and see if a little dip in the lower mids helps things. Yes, I did increase the stereo width with M/S volume (I think it was -0.6 in the M channel), I thought it sounded OK so left it like that, but I can hear what you mean about it being too wide.

Well, it's not that it sounded bad or so to me. Actually it brought more guitars sustained tone (and verbs) to the sides, as far as I remember. Although it made an image bit wider not many people listen to music in perfect stereo position so they likely would not have a chance to detect center's little deficiency (already existed in a mix to some extent).

Great feedback Art.
Appreciated the walk through and complete insight.

Thanks a lot! This actually encouraged me to write more above!

Art
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BiigNiick

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #35 on: May 28, 2015, 12:23:39 am »

Nick, the 'don't like' list maybe just looks like there's lots of things in there, however I think that all of them were the outcome of more or less single decision. I am not sure if it's deesser thing, because it impacts rather high freqs, I would rather bet on mixture of tape and those -2dB @ 950Hz and -2 @ 3.7kHz cuts where the rest of the Wump pack have put more attention (I think that 950 is the important region for these vocals and 3.7k is in presence/snap area). I can see you also set 2s release on compression so it might be possible that compressors were in permanent GR state (btw. I noticed that some gear, even the most known/used one, is usually doing some GR (or modify signal envelope in some way) even if it's not indicated on VUs or display).

We have just different taste and that's good. It could be pretty boring if everybody would response to the same flavor only.
I am pretty sure many listeners would choose your master for the warm tone or tape sound even if some dynamics were impacted.
My approach was different, as I am quite sensitive to acoustic instruments sound (and this was actually an acoustic piece) I focused on instruments tone and some strong points of the mix (like strong female voc, transitions, etc). I'm also moving toward less fixing but more focusing on good elements.

To add more comment, personally I would not choose tape for this project. Tape affects signal envelope, on choruses attacks were already almost completely lost in original mix. Tambourine is pretty demanding for recording (I am always full of big respect to those who mastered acoustics instruments recording, it's and art on and of itself!) and playback equipment as it can have very short but strong attack (depending on instrument usage and artists playing style of course). Unfortunately such an attack was already tamed in the mix, so any smoothing (like that one from tape) actually brings more sustain/decay (and HF) part of tambourine sound and cause its further definition deterioration (well sometimes it is intended to place instrument somewhere in the back).

Bringing HF content up could be also very tricky in this mix, not only because of 's'-es. If you focus on some mid/hi-mid ringing (existent in the mix) you might hear processing in action (like from compression on parts that triggered it) that was rendered to the file during mixdown and can be easily exposed more. I haven't reported it in my dislikes list as I wanted to stay away from obvious (and likely unfixable) mix issues in my opinion.
In this mix tambourine was also mixed to be a little behind vocals. When one brings more HF he/she actually puts this instrument more in front (up to the point it may even sound distracting from the performance), changing the mix balance.
There're also phase issues that add their own to the picture.
So, any HF boosts bring such issues to the table, but in different increments. And that's why I did not play much with HF (well, at the expense of exposing other issues too- and it was actually good observation from you).

Anyway, this was a difficult mix (but great performance). Lots of compromises to choose and/or to make, every single one has its own best context.





Thanks, Art.  I like your ideas and approach.  Thinking about a mix and focusing on the strong points rather than focusing on what needs fixed (especially if unfixable) can be a more successful approach.  I find that I frequently focus on the negative things that I think need fixing and from your comments I will consciously try to approach the other.


As far as the tape decision, I did one with and one without tape.  The next day, I listened to both and liked the smoothness and balance of the tape version.  Maybe I would choose the other after considering your comments and listening with a fresh perspective now, who knows?


I always like the WUMPs because I love to hear others critique and discussion of different mastering techniques.


Thanks again, everyone,
 - nick



BiigNiick

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #36 on: May 28, 2015, 12:24:56 am »

BiigNick: I have to get my hands on some cool Portico at some point. Thanks for the feedback..


give tristian or drew a call and they can send you a demo unit.  let me know if you need contact info.


 - nick

ArtSta

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #37 on: May 28, 2015, 09:28:57 am »

Thanks, Art.  I like your ideas and approach.  Thinking about a mix and focusing on the strong points rather than focusing on what needs fixed (especially if unfixable) can be a more successful approach. 

Nick, I think that 'successful' is pretty subjective :). Tape smoothness is definitely in wow factors departement, it's great to quickly impress listeners. However there are some with pretty damn good sound memory and it's hard to cheat them and their sound image. It really depends who is actually encountered, who pays more attention to overall picture, who to details, and who to both matters. As usual- every case is different.
In my approach there are issues too. It's pretty hard to find the proper balance between focusing on strong points and fixing because these both domains fully interact, especially when mix has some flaws. After reading your comments I think I should do one step more to fixing. First time impressions are even more important than the rest.

Looking forward to the next Wump!

Btw. Just quick thought on Wump v2 for the future- listener type of participants, not doing mastering, but critically listening only :). No settings, no approaches, no engaging, no bias, just pure impressions on listening. What do you think ?

Art

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BiigNiick

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #38 on: May 28, 2015, 10:47:43 pm »

Nick, I think that 'successful' is pretty subjective :) . Tape smoothness is definitely in wow factors departement, it's great to quickly impress listeners. However there are some with pretty damn good sound memory and it's hard to cheat them and their sound image. It really depends who is actually encountered, who pays more attention to overall picture, who to details, and who to both matters. As usual- every case is different.


true.  much in what we do is subjective and depends on what the client wants.





Btw. Just quick thought on Wump v2 for the future- listener type of participants, not doing mastering, but critically listening only :) . No settings, no approaches, no engaging, no bias, just pure impressions on listening. What do you think ?


sounds like a good idea.


 - nick

KAyo

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #39 on: June 06, 2015, 12:34:52 am »

Hi Art..

That listening WUMP is an idea that we could and should venture, absolutely. Like discussing your fav mix+master. I have several, but, a couple that stick out are "No Doubt - Hella Good" That master smashes my brain into pulp. Through a great BOSE system, its jaw dropping. Just speechless. Another is "Debussy Art of noise", I mean talk about class! Instrumentation, Music construction, programming, recording, mixing and mastering. Just stupendous! Truly, a listening pleasure..


For the next WUMP, I have a distinct challenge for the group. RESTORATION!
A classic sounding file.. restored to the best of your ability and tooled back to life.

I sense, you'd enjoy that Art, and so would many others.


On ya' people..

KAyo
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ArtSta

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #40 on: June 06, 2015, 01:10:22 pm »

Looking forward! Thanks.

Art
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fuse

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #41 on: June 12, 2015, 08:29:06 pm »

Restauration? Can be a tough job if the material is degraded.

Reminds me of this customer that had an old cassette of him playing the piano.
He couldn't play anymore because of arthritis so that tape was the only thing he had left to remember his music.
Helping such people can be a very fulfilling job.
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KAyo

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Re: WUMP 28 ( Discussions & Techniques )
« Reply #42 on: June 19, 2015, 09:00:42 pm »

Now, that sounds like a challenge, fuse. I am sure it was worth the hard restore.
Our is going to be similarly tough. Keep you all posted.


Thanks
KAyo
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