Thread: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

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    Clown Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    The questions (see explanation below!)

    1. If the stereo out is clipping (in the red) is the mix too hot? Even if you hear no distortion?

    2. If the source is no good then is it worth pursuing a mix?

    3. A dull song will always sound dull even if sung by David Bowie and recorded at Abbey Road?

    4. If you're mixing piano and guitar, should you lose the guitars if you find the piano dominates everything?!

    5. Are periods of self-doubt during a mix normal?

    Quick explanation:

    thank you wombite for taking time to read to read the rantings of a humble amateur. I try to have a professional attitude in all things I do so appreciate any input you may have. I fear that posting to home rec or the purple place will result in nothing but plugin suggestions.

    my gear and experience is limited but I learn more everyday and am completely open minded. The material I'm recording is simple and I'm trying to keep it that way as I am engineering, mixing and producing alongside some performance duties! I think the songs are mostly good and would like to finish an albums worth by the end of the summer.

    Logic 9 on an MBP with an Apogee Duet. Slate VCC and VTM alongside SSD4 and Toontrack EZ drummer. Smackie Baby HUI for control, KRK Rokit 5s and DT 770 Pro for monitoring & mixing. Untreated room.
    Last edited by Andy_D; June 8th, 2015 at 03:00 PM. Reason: dumb-ass
    shut up and play yer guitar...
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    I'm not sure about some of your questions.
    1. What output do you mean? Why you say "not the master".
    Anyhow I'd suggest just be conservative and stay away from clipping: it doesn't hurt and you can't go wrong (-6/-3 dB FS max for the peaks).

    2. Short answer would be no, but of course there are exceptions.
    One might be the source doesn't sound good but the performance is great and for some reason it cannot be tracked again.

    3.Yes. Maybe Gilmour could reveal a good song that you though it was dull because of a crappy performer!

    4. I don't get this.

    5. IMHO yes. The key might be to learn to control your self and get over counter-productive self doubting.
    I guess time and experience help to rely on your skills.

    My Mixes on Soundcloud


    With great monitors its easy to hear and fix problems but hard to enhance things that already sound good.

    With hyped monitors, everything sounds good so you don't hear the problems.

    With bad monitors, it seems easy to make absolutely anything sound better because you are really fixing the sound of the monitors rather than the sound of the recording.
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    Thanks for looking! Here's a picture of the logic window I'm referring too:

    Name:  LogicWindow.jpg
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Size:  38.6 KB

    Andy

    Just to clarify I have Slate mixbus and virtual tape plugins on the Stereo Out.
    shut up and play yer guitar...
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    Ignore the Master channel. Leave it at unity gain (0.0dB) and never touch it.

    Your Output channel is actually your output. If you clip that, then when you bounce to fixed point files (16bit or 24bit) you will have a clipped waveform.
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    1. If the stereo out is clipping (in the red) is the mix too hot? Even if you hear no distortion?
    Yes. There is no reason for allowing a mix to get even close to those levels. My mixes frequently peak at -12/-14 dBFS. You can always add a limiter for "client" mixes, or tell them to use the volume knob.

    The reason you are hearing no distortion is that Logic, like most DAWs, uses 32-bit floating point math on outputs, buses and channels. As Judas said, when you bounce it to a fixed-point format, you will have clipped files.

    2. If the source is no good then is it worth pursuing a mix?
    Impossibly broad question. I would suggest to always get your sources right - having said that, a less-than-perfect recording of a great song/performance is worth a mix, every day.

    3. A dull song will always sound dull even if sung by David Bowie and recorded at Abbey Road?
    If by "dull" you mean "uninteresting", that can certainly be the case - and has.

    4. If you're mixing piano and guitar, should you lose the guitars if you find the piano dominates everything?!
    Again, impossibly broad question.

    5. Are periods of self-doubt during a mix normal?

    Yes, they can certainly be.


    otek
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    Okay, thanks to all the great replies I tore a mix down last night. Dropped every fader, put the stereo out to unity and using the meters in the VCC mix-bus brought up the tracks one by one till they were balanced AND not clipping. I did these for intro, verse, chorus, solo etc ensuring at each stage that any peaks were manageable. What I got was a great sounding mix and confidence in my final bounce.

    It did occur to me though that the two sides of mixing are in conflict. The technical know-how of faders, automation etc and the creative part of really making the mix shine, ensuring it has feeling/light & shade.

    Your thoughts?
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    The technical know-how is how you realise your aesthetic vision.

    Once you get to know your tools, they work for you, not against you.
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    Andy_D at some point you will need to upgrade your monitoring - that means speakers that reproduce the bottom 2 octaves and room treatment to allow you to accurately hear that reproduction. For now headphones and checking in a gazillion places will help, but confidence in your mixes, given the information concerning your monitoring, would have to be hard to come by.
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    Default Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread


    It did occur to me though that the two sides of mixing are in conflict. The technical know-how of faders, automation etc and the creative part of really making the mix shine, ensuring it has feeling/light & shade.

    Your thoughts?
    I'm not sure this question resonates with me. I don't really feel creative when mixing, and before someone jumps on me for some stupid reason, I don't at all say that to denigrate the process. I love mixing, it's probably safe to say we all do.
    But I find a lot of my decisions have been made for me by the sound of the source material (how what has been tracked sounds to begin with) and the arrangement (what has been tracked) those 2 factors make a lot of my decisions for me. If I've done a good job, there is flexibility in a mix.
    (I'm clearly not the first around here to say this)
    I.e. There will an area within certain boundaries in volume, or maybe tone, within which an element can exist and still work. Calling this a creative decision is a bit of a stretch to me though.


    Gain management is not something I'm particularly good at frankly, it's not unusual for me to have to pull every fader in a mix down by (X) amount at some point in the mix. But I don't ever feel like that is compromising my ability to make other choices the way that I want, it's just a trifle annoyance and an aspect of my mixing that I still clearly need to work on.


    And tearing an entire mix down can be liberating. No one wants to do it often, but every once in a while it's really cleansing to say:
    Nope. Fuck this. Nope.

    And it helps remind you not to be too attached to your sounds, if that makes any sense.
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    I'm not sure this question resonates with me. I don't really feel creative when mixing, and before someone jumps on me for some stupid reason....
    How about a non stupid reason?

    I make a lot of decisions in the course of arriving at a finished mix, and every one, from the attack of the compressor I put on the bass guitar, the mid range I cut from the floor tom, to the volume automation on the vocal track... are by and large dictated by what I believe sounds better. What sounds better to me is dictated by my perception of the song, the elements, how they fit together best, by the quality of my attention and by my emotional participation in the creative act.

    I would argue as well that truly enjoying a song is a creative act, but mixing even more so because there is the obvious interdependence.

    Of course mixing can be an exhaustive and exhausting process, and I would guess few of us are excited by every last moment of it, but if one doesn't understand that this IS a creative exercise...well, I don't really know why one would do it. There are certainly more lucrative occupations that do not demand creativity.
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    Default Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    Again, compressor attack and release value while important, is difficult for me to qualify as a "creative moment" in my life. It's more functional then creative to me.
    It's just the way I think about it, and I understand others see it differently.
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    It did occur to me though that the two sides of mixing are in conflict. The technical know-how of faders, automation etc and the creative part of really making the mix shine, ensuring it has feeling/light & shade.

    Your thoughts?
    I disagree. Others have commented on this already, but the technical know-how is only a problem if regarded as a set of unbreakable "rules" standing in your way, and not an asset in making things sound the way I want. The same goes for playing an instrument, painting, cooking, etc.

    This is typically a phase that many go through as they're learning. Possibly because keeping those basic "rules" in mind needs to be more of a conscious effort, and therefore somewhat more "exhausting".

    For example, I maintain conservative levels for both recording and mix frame because it makes things sound better, not because "_____ told me to record at conservative levels".

    As you said yourself, "What I got was a great sounding mix and confidence in my final bounce." What is "conflicting" about that?


    otek
    "Tube color is not the 'thing'. Why would the most linear amplifying device have a color?" - Jonte Knif
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    It did occur to me though that the two sides of mixing are in conflict. The technical know-how of faders, automation etc and the creative part of really making the mix shine, ensuring it has feeling/light & shade.

    Your thoughts?
    The first is craft and the second is art. You learn the craft in order to forget it—that is, it's become so ingrained that you no longer have to concentrate on it—when it comes time to make the art.
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    The first is craft and the second is art. You learn the craft in order to forget it—that is, it's become so ingrained that you no longer have to concentrate on it—when it comes time to make the art.
    That's exactly what I was about to say.

    It's like riding a bicycle - when you start out you're always thinking about your balance and wobbling your handlebars back and forth trying to stay upright,. always thinking about the mechanics of what you're trying to do. Then you actually start to get then hang of it and you don't think about that stuff anymore, you just think about riding to wherever you're going and what route you're gonna take to get there.
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    Default Re: Amateur Hour - The Stupid Question thread

    Again, compressor attack and release value while important, is difficult for me to qualify as a "creative moment" in my life. It's more functional then creative to me.
    It's just the way I think about it, and I understand others see it differently.
    For me, "functional" would describe activities like washing the dishes or driving my kids back and forth. I'm thinking of Mixerman's book where he says something along the lines of he knows when the mix is working when it makes him want to sing. Personally, I have to work pretty hard to make my voice singing worthy, but I have my own version of that.

    The attack and release of a compressor can change the groove of the source in drastic and subtle ways, and if (as I see it) there really is no right or wrong, then how can that decision not be creative?

    I really don't mean to be argumentative by the way. But if I wanted to be an accountant, that's what I would have done. And I'd be way better off financially.

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