1. #21
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    The problem that you refer to is not really a problem. I was merely asking if other people had come across this situation. Granted, i do not expect anyone to know the particularities of the mix or the setup, that is why when someone has asked me something i am quick to explain and give info. Sorry if i came off as being dismissive, i meant that the issues that people have pointed out so far are known to me and are not really part of my "problem". I consider these a given for the present mix and i was asking for similar experiences. Also, there is nothing technically wrong with the setup. I kinda landed to this situation while mixing. I like the result, I don't mind that i have bent the laws of gainstaging since the result is what i am looking for.

    I would say that right now it is a 50% of dry signal vs 50% for the parallel processing. By the way, that is regarding vocals, not the rest of the mix. One of my favorite parallel processors for this task, the early ridge farm boiler is mainly responsible for the gain increase.
    I'm not really sure what you're hoping to hear here. Your original question was "How do you approach this?". It seems like most people who have responded so far would either avoid the situation altogether, or plan for it to happen that way ahead of time and make any necessary adjustments to compensate.

    If you get towards the end of a mix and find something about your gain structure "troublesome" as you put it in the OP, then that suggests the real issue should be addressed upstream.
  2. #22
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions


    I would say that right now it is a 50% of dry signal vs 50% for the parallel processing. By the way, that is regarding vocals, not the rest of the mix. One of my favorite parallel processors for this task, the early ridge farm boiler is mainly responsible for the gain increase.
    But evidently it isn't if the parallel processing results in a whopping 20dB increase in level.

    Just because the knobs look like they're set at 50% does not necessarily mean it's true.

    I don't mind that i have bent the laws of gainstaging since the result is what i am looking for.
    Well, maybe you don't "regard it as a problem" and maybe the result is what you're looking for, fine. That's up to you. But when the outcome is such a massive increase in level I submit that maybe you DO have a problem, or will when the track goes to mastering and doesn't have any available headroom left.
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  3. #23
    Frustrated Chick Rock singer...now doing jazz standards poorly! Never made a record...music forum mod!
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    The point of parallel compression, as I underastand it, is to get the effect of upwards compression (making low level signals higher while not impacting anything above the threshold) using a compressor that, like (almost?) all hardware, is made to do downward compression.

    In this case you wouldn't need to add much of the parallel track to get the effect; maybe you're just using too much?

    I was pleased to see Weedy's response; I've often wondered if I was missing something in my general preference for standard compression.
  4. #24
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    ...but rather if any of you had done this out of choice, ended up with something they liked but found a way to be able to fine tune everything after the fact.
    Not really, because I don't see the point of not controlling my gain staging. The only thing I can think of here is that you're hitting your tape returns very hard, and if that makes things sound better to you, then go for it. You might insert some sort of attenuator on the mix path insert to bring things down before the fader, but that would likely also change whatever sound you're getting.

    For example if the console had vcas i could easily solve the fader position problem regarding rides and fine tune.
    You could, but as others alluded to, VCAs would also typically change the sound (the sound being the only reason I can think of why you would hit your tape returns that hard), and since they are also generally more sensitive to high input gain, you might find the sound way more "pinched" if you kept that gain structure.

    Maybe I don't get why you ask the question if you already know all the answers.


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  5. #25
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    It seems that the only way to tackle it properly is either not using parallel compression entirely,or use it much less in the mix to have your "dry fader" where it is easier to manipulate.

    I will use the coming mix as a test, avoiding to use parallel compression altogether and see what happens. Last time i did that was a few months back for a movie ost. I recall it being real easy regarding gainstaging management, but the music itself was fairly dynamic and I didn't miss parallel processing at all.

    While on the subject of not using parallel compression, what if you have only one of these compressors that you like and you want to use it across multiple channels say many BV and the main vox as well.

    By using it parallel, you could send whatever you wanted to this processor in varying amounts. Its not the same as inserting it on a channel, but this way you could apply some of its attributes to any channel you wished, along the added "inyourface" characteristics from upward compression.

    But if you opted not to use it parallel,

    Would you group everything to 2 channels on the desk and insert it across this channel?
    Would you reprint every channel back to digital after processing?
  6. #26
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    It seems that the only way to tackle it properly is either not using parallel compression entirely,or use it much less in the mix to have your "dry fader" where it is easier to manipulate.
    First, this seems contradictory. I thought it was the "wet fader" that was causing the problems? You said before that your dry signal came in around 0VU, and that the gain increase was due to the parallel processing.

    Second, the above quote is backwards thinking, on several levels:

    You control your gain staging to make it do whatever you need. if it is indeed the "dry fader" causing the problem, then simply use less gain to begin with coming out of the DAW. If it is the "wet fader", again, find a way to control the gain increase caused by the processing. Note that parallel chains will always cause a small gain increase due to the combining of waveforms, but as I said, if you start with a lower level to begin with, this is not necessarily a problem.

    The Ridge Farm compressor does not appear to have a traditional makeup gain control, instead, only input and threshold. It seems logical to me, then, that if one turned down the input and used a lower threshold, you would obtain the same amount of compression but with lower output gain. As I have not used the unit, I cannot comment on how that might alter the sound, however, as most analog compressors go into various kinds of non-linear behavior when pushed hard.

    A second option would be to use some kind of stand-alone attenuation (e.g. XLR line pads) coming out of the compressor - this would not alter the sound of the unit itself, but would decrease the gain coming into your tape returns, allowing you to keep your faders around unity. That's how I might have "tackled it properly" - by addressing the gain staging problem at the source.

    By using it parallel, you could send whatever you wanted to this processor in varying amounts. Its not the same as inserting it on a channel, but this way you could apply some of its attributes to any channel you wished, along the added "inyourface" characteristics from upward compression.
    I would most likely NOT do this, because it would introduce some rather unpredictable behavior from whatever channels I would send into it.

    Let's say you sent the lead vocal and the kick drum to the parallel bus (to use a fairly extreme example). This means that the kick drum would yank the vocal down every time it played during a vocal phrase, or, depending on the levels you were sending, the vocal would pull down the kick drum in loud passages. The compressor would behave inconsistently depending on what is sent to the parallel bus, how much of it is sent, and in what part of the song those elements would interact. Because you would still have a "dry" chain not affected by this, it would lead to some very erratic level changes in the aggregate sound of the mix.

    Would you group everything to 2 channels on the desk and insert it across this channel?
    Would you reprint every channel back to digital after processing?
    Option 1 might work - the result would be highly dependent on the blend, individual frequency content and dynamic behavior of whatever elements you sent into it. Regular 2-bus compression would send everything through the compressor, thus creating consistency with respect to the whole mix.

    Recording back into the DAW would be problematic, since the only way to determine how much and what kind of compression would sound good, would be to hear it in the mix in context and post processing - and you only have one compressor, so you're back to square one. Sure, one could always compress/record one channel at a time back into the DAW, and build the mix accordingly, but you would have to repeat the process later if you found you had over-cooked the compression.

    One alternative might be to record back in a heavily compressed stem of, say, the drums, time-align it, and use that as the parallel compression, but it requires a little guesswork still. I have done it occasionally when I liked the sound of a compressor, chamber, plate or whatever that I wouldn't have access to in mix.


    otek
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  7. #27
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions


    While on the subject of not using parallel compression, what if you have only one of these compressors that you like and you want to use it across multiple channels say many BV and the main vox as well.
    If you don't mind having the lead vox and BGVs processed the same you could send them all to a vocals bus and patch the compressor into that.

    I usually don't like having the lead and background vox on the same bus, so what I'd do is bounce or "freeze" one or the other, i.e. wind up with a track recorded with the compressor baked in, freeing up that compressor for the other task.

    By using it parallel, you could send whatever you wanted to this processor in varying amounts. Its not the same as inserting it on a channel, but this way you could apply some of its attributes to any channel you wished, along the added "inyourface" characteristics from upward compression.
    I'm not sure what "upward compression" means but it seems to work well mainly if everything being sent to a compressor has similar characteristics. The type of compressor/ settings that you'd use for a drums bus would be different than that which you'd use on background vocals because you'd probably want attack and release and maybe ratio and knee to be taylored to the characteristics of the tracks at hand. The 2 bus compressor would be set for the aggregate mix.

    That isn't parallel compression, though.

    But if you opted not to use it parallel,

    Would you group everything to 2 channels on the desk and insert it across this channel?
    You are describing the master/ stereo, 2 bus?

    Would you reprint every channel back to digital after processing?
    I don't know about every channel but printing fx makes sense for a couple of reasons. I opened a session and saw that the bass guitar was labelled el8frz (or something) which tells me that the track has a Distressor baked in. First of all, we only have one Distressor here at nbby road, so that 1) frees the unit up to be used on other things. 2) I don't have to recall the settings. 3) It saves CPU power.
    Man! You have GOT to try a hit of this RANGE SUNSHINE!

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  8. #28
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    I've been away from the computer for a few days, so My perspective on this thread has become a bit, shall we say, detached? So, reading up on the thread, my reactions are as follows:

    The entire problem appears to me to be based on several different but related factors - First, a fairly profound failure to understand gain structure. I'm not sure how to go about dealing with this at this stage; gain structure is something so intrinsic to good audio that for somebody who came up prior to "internetz wisdom" it was imparted part and parcel with learning to operate audio equipment. I don't really understand how it might be possible to go back and correct misperceptions instilled at such a basic level.
    This problem appears to me to be being exacerbated by a failure to understand the dB system and the various variants of dB measurement, and how they do and do not relate to each other, especially when transitioning from ITB measurements which have no universally correspondence to real world voltages and the various OTB, real world dB measurements, which do.
    When I came up there was no ITB and was no "dBfs" and I remember being somewhat confounded at the idea of a dB scale that had no ties to actual levels on my console metering. and had a "0dB" point that was an absolute (in terms of the somewhat hazy - to me at the time - definitions of digital level), and not a reference point for nominal operating level.
    I imagine that it's probably doubly confusing coming the other way.

    That's where the problem starts - a failure to inherently comprehend the workings of level, and measurement and management of same. But that's just the beginning.

    The crux of the problem appears to be to involve the desire to integrate outboard equipment with an essentially ITB based workflow without really having a grasp on the differences involved or the proper operation of some of the gear, and a desire to incorporate "advanced techniques" gleaned from the internet, with inadequate available equipment to achieve these goals.

    What the hell are you going on about, Eppstein?

    This:
    By using it parallel, you could send whatever you wanted to this processor in varying amounts. Its not the same as inserting it on a channel, but this way you could apply some of its attributes to any channel you wished, along the added "inyourface" characteristics from upward compression.
    No. You can't.
    Well, you CAN send it, but it won't do what you think it will or what you want it to do.

    It appears that you don't have a very good grasp of how a compressor operates.

    When you buss a bunch of things to a compressor, the comp doesn't see the signal as a whole bunch of individual inputs. The comp doesn't look at the signal and e.g. say, "Oh he wants to be delicate and subtle with the acoustic guitars add a bit of "glue" to the BGVs and strings, and do a really "in your face" smashdown on the electric guitar and faux Hammond"

    Oh, no! The comp DOES NOT EVEN SEE the individual signals you're sending to the buss as separate instruments or signals, let alone interpret the different amounts you're sending in different ways - THE COMPRESSOR CAN'T THINK, let alone recognize different components of the mix you're sending it as different musical signals. (If the PR flacks and sales weasels from the company or dealership somehow imparted the impression that the machine possesses some kind of intelligence to you, they lied.)
    The compressor understands one thing - VOLTAGE OVER TIME. And the voltage it sees is the SUM of all the voltages fed into the buss, in proportion to each other.

    Which means that you "in your face" stuff is going to step all over all that other stuff you're trying to processes more subtly. You WILL NOT get the result you're looking for by trying to parallel process a buss with a mix of a bunch of disparate things on it. Won't work, ain't gonna happen.

    You need to process each signal (individuals track or group) individually, either one at a time with your one box, or you need to buy more compressors. Me, I favor the latter. I've got around 15 channels of hardware compression in my rig, plus another couple or so channels that need service. Incidentally, of all those, only one two-channel box has built in parallel compression (A-Designs Nail) and we've hardly ever found a reason to use that feature.

    Anyway, that's my basic impression on returning back from the land of the near dead.

    What you're actually gonna do about it, well that's a whole other problem... I'd suggest some basic learning - NOT from the usual* internet sources, and definitely not from any books with the words "Expert" or "Pro" in the title - is up to you.




    *- The Womb is definitely NOT usual. There are a couple of others - you can tell them by the presence of working engineers, techs, producers, etc and the absence of wannabe "experts".

    I'd avoid anything "purple" - it's not that there's no good info, but the noise level is so high that by the time you're able to distinguish wheat from chaff it's not worth the effort.
  9. #29
    Frustrated Chick Rock singer...now doing jazz standards poorly! Never made a record...music forum mod!
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    Anyway, that's my basic impression on returning back from the land of the near dead.
    Nice post.

    Imparts a possibly misunderstood reality without coming across as condescending.

    Very recently I bought a Prophet 6, and, after using it to the extent I could in my record (kind of a progish rock expedition I hope this forum is still around to comment upon when released) I had already for the most part finished, then I started writing new stuff with the Prophet. So I finally dipped my toe in the loop and sample stuff included with Cubase, and the first thing I noticed is that every thing is fucking loud. The stock sounds are all peaking where a fully mixed and mastered track should be. And this is probably the typical environment in which kids originally begin learning.

    But I had to ask you about the land of the near dead; what happened?
  10. #30
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    Nice post.

    Imparts a possibly misunderstood reality without coming across as condescending.

    Very recently I bought a Prophet 6, and, after using it to the extent I could in my record (kind of a progish rock expedition I hope this forum is still around to comment upon when released) I had already for the most part finished, then I started writing new stuff with the Prophet. So I finally dipped my toe in the loop and sample stuff included with Cubase, and the first thing I noticed is that every thing is fucking loud. The stock sounds are all peaking where a fully mixed and mastered track should be. And this is probably the typical environment in which kids originally begin learning.

    But I had to ask you about the land of the near dead; what happened?
    Pulmonary embolism. Multiple pulmonary embolisms. Still hurts like hell, on oxygen and blood thinners, got no energy. Gotta carry a tank if I go out. Doctors say at least three months under current medication. Dunno how much longer I'll be around to annoy people. Trying to get the last album out to mastering, dunno how it'll be released though.Would like to get one more done, but don't know if I'll last or if my living situation will allow continued work. Landlords at my current place tripled the rent from 2 grand to 6 grand/month, as of July 1st (after negotiating a two month extension.). People who control my money are not cooperating, they appear to be trying to force me to sell everything at a loss and move into a one room studio apartment by myself where I can't do music and won't have room for any of my things. If that happens I won't be around long.

    No money to stay, can't get the cash needed to move to a reasonable place, need to stay where I am for medical reasons.

    I'm fucked.

    Now aren't you sorry you asked?

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  11. #31
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    jesus christ man! i think i read somewhere about the rent thing (still REALLY fucked up, btw...has to be illegal) but to add that on top, sorry to hear. hope you get well soon...so you can take on those scumbag landlords. i say squat there, take yourself hostage. can't be any more criminal than what they're doing.

    and I've got nothing to add that hasn't been said already, other than maybe try doing some side-chain stuff with the instrument busses before they're sent to the console and compressor. like, sending the kick+snare to the key input on an instrument buss comp itb before its sent otb. could alleviate the 'additive gain' issue.

    what kinda console is it you're using anyway?
  12. #32
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    Best wishes, John.

    Don't let the bastards grind you into an early grave!
  13. #33
    Plays in Winger cover band Enjoys scratching self too much
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    Shit man. I really hope too you'll find a good way out of this one. Best wishes, for real.
  14. #34
    Frustrated Chick Rock singer...now doing jazz standards poorly! Never made a record...music forum mod!
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    Pulmonary embolism. Multiple pulmonary embolisms. Still hurts like hell, on oxygen and blood thinners, got no energy. Gotta carry a tank if I go out. Doctors say at least three months under current medication. Dunno how much longer I'll be around to annoy people. Trying to get the last album out to mastering, dunno how it'll be released though.Would like to get one more done, but don't know if I'll last or if my living situation will allow continued work. Landlords at my current place tripled the rent from 2 grand to 6 grand/month, as of July 1st (after negotiating a two month extension.). People who control my money are not cooperating, they appear to be trying to force me to sell everything at a loss and move into a one room studio apartment by myself where I can't do music and won't have room for any of my things. If that happens I won't be around long.

    No money to stay, can't get the cash needed to move to a reasonable place, need to stay where I am for medical reasons.

    I'm fucked.

    Now aren't you sorry you asked?

    No, I'm not sorry I asked, and I wasn't just being polite.

    I'm old enough to have collected enough maladies and ailments to where, if I believed there was a God, I would would curse It on an hourly basis (if not more often) for my evidently planned obsolescence.

    The last few months have seen the demise of so many musical icons I've lost count, and the last one was by his own hand, which I totally get - why would one want to stick around and experience the rapid diminishing of one's abilities and faculties anyway?

    But then there's that whole built in survival instinct.

    It just sucks.

    At any rate, your humor and allergy to bullshit has always been a bright spot on this forum (as well as the PP), and we DO need to hear that next record.
  15. #35
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    Don't you dare to go before you're ready.
  16. #36
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    Thank you so much everybody! Can't tell you how much it means to me.

    Didn't mean to hijack the thread, let's get back to it!
    http://www.johnnyoklahoma.com/

    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    Everything is some mixture of awesome and suck. We simply want the awesome to be highlighted sufficiently that it distracts listeners from the suck.
    Originally Posted by Bob Ohlsson
    The appropriate role for science is the study of observed phenomena to gain an understanding. It is not dictating what people ought or ought not to be observing.
    Hey, if I'm Grumpy, where the hell is Snow White????
  17. #37
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    Thank you so much everybody! Can't tell you how much it means to me.

    Didn't mean to hijack the thread, let's get back to it!
    If sharing some love isn't allowed in this place - I'm out.
  18. #38
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    Group hug time!!

    Someone ping Slippy. There's no rainbows and unicorns without him.
  19. #39
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    Pulmonary embolism. Multiple pulmonary embolisms. Still hurts like hell, on oxygen and blood thinners, got no energy. Gotta carry a tank if I go out. Doctors say at least three months under current medication. Dunno how much longer I'll be around to annoy people.
    Don't even think about it. This party is far from over.

    You have become an asset to this site (which also needs to be nursed back to health) and you don't get to take the easy way out. Sorry. So don't go from Womb to tomb, 'kay?

    Landlords at my current place tripled the rent from 2 grand to 6 grand/month, as of July 1st (after negotiating a two month extension.).
    Silicon Vally is way overdue for a market correction. That bubble needs to burst. Over here on the East Coast there is a similar problem with gentrification spreading out from Wall Street to drive people and businesses first out of Greenwich Village, then out of western Brooklyn. All the cool stores and clubs (not to mention affordable apartments) are being phased out, replaced by luxury condos

    I hope everything works out for ya. In the meantime, try to stay out of bar room brawls and avoid any involvement in gunfights until you're in good enough shape to dive under a parked car.
    Man! You have GOT to try a hit of this RANGE SUNSHINE!

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  20. #40
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    Default Re: Gain staging, parallel processing and fader positions

    Thank you so much everybody! Can't tell you how much it means to me.

    Didn't mean to hijack the thread, let's get back to it!
    John, thanks for all your input over the years, and I send my best wishes. I wish there was something I could do to help.

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