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Topic: Getting "the sound".....

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  1. #1

    Getting "the sound".....

    Hi all, recently midphase started a great thread on Sampled Orchestra Tricks along those lines I was wondering if people could share any knowledge that leads to getting a great sound, in terms of production. (In other words, in the mixing and mastering of a piece as opposed to the orchestration.)

    Alternately, perhaps you have a link to a famous composer talking about his or her \"sound\" and how they go about getting it. On that note, if anyone know how Bill Brown achieves his production I would LOVE to hear it! (I know he employs more and more live players now, but I think there is more to his sound quality than that.)

    I know this is a fairly broad way to approach a complex topic, but for example I do hear of suggestions like rolling off frequencies between 200 and 400 hz to clean up the \"mud\" in the mix - a list of tips like these would be very helpful.

    Edit: [It looks like midphase has inspired us as Rob Elliot has started another thread on Orchestral arranging devices [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] ]
    Regards, Scott.

  2. #2

    Re: Getting "the sound".....

    There are some highly skilled recording engineers that frequent this forum, so this could get to be a long thread.

    With my limited skills, here\'s what I would lay out as some ground rules, in no particular order:

    First, and above all: YOU CAN\'T POLISH A TURD! Start with tracks that are performed to the best of the player\'s ability. Record them as hot as is safe, to achieve maximum dynamic range later.

    Mix at low volume levels most of the time. I piece that sounds great soft will seldom sound bad loud.

    Use effects and EQ as little as possible (this applies to \'natural\' sounding mixes) I like to put short, early reflections on dry instruments, then apply a final \'room\' reverb only at the final stage (minus any instruments you want dry.)

    Build mixes a section at a time initially - strings to a submix, brass (or separate bones/tpts/horns if you have the sub channels) etc. then blend into a final.

    Pan- if the track has a room sound, I run it stereo, then use left-right levels rather than pan pot to get left/right positioning, and the add the reverb to achieve front-to-back position. Dry, \'single-note-instrument\' tracks work generally fine as mono - less resources, better control.

    There is a sweet spot that most mixes can have. It is difficult to find at first, but gets easier with experience. I call it the \'float,\' a place where each part sits like a pearl, to be savored as both a part of the mix and as itself.

    Save often when using automation. As you approach \'the float\', save to several differnt filenames, so you can recall something a few steps back when that great idea that required changing eight or ten settings fails to work.

    The studio space is a SYSTEM. Everything is designed to connect to everything else, and this can lead to complex configurations. Don\'t be afraid to try something \'wierd\', but be alert for feedback chains in the system.

    Just a start. Good luck, and keep your ears open. They are the final arbiter of what works. If it sounds good, it IS good, but a year from now, it may not sound as good. That\'s because you have become more attuned to the possibilities, not because it was bad then.

    Dasher

  3. #3

    Re: Getting "the sound".....

    Originally posted by thesoundsmith:

    First, and above all: YOU CAN\'T POLISH A TURD!
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">That\'s not completely true. Reality is you can polish a turd all day long. At the end of the day you still have Crap - But it\'s shiney!

  4. #4

    Re: Getting "the sound".....

    Presumably EWQLSO will give you \"the sound\" pretty effortlessly. Now it\'s just up to you to write something good! [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  5. #5

    Re: Getting "the sound".....

    There are too many sounds out there [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    I did a stalling like cue that I wanted to sound like the 50\'s so I mono\'d it up, used some saturation plugs, and went to town.

    Othertimes I want a \"studio room\" sound so I\'ll use some smaller room reverbs, and play with the early reflections, but keep the decay down.

    Sometimes I want it to be lush and ambient and wetter than a rainy day in Seattle. Totally unrealistic, I use multible verbs then.

    It all depends on the cue, its use, AND the individual person. Each one of us hears something slightly different in terms of \"mix\"

    QLSO\'s sound is gorgeous.

  6. #6

    Re: Getting "the sound".....

    Originally posted by J. Whaley:
    </font><blockquote><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><hr /><font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Originally posted by thesoundsmith:

    First, and above all: YOU CAN\'T POLISH A TURD!
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">That\'s not completely true. Reality is you can polish a turd all day long. At the end of the day you still have Crap - But it\'s shiney! </font><hr /></blockquote><font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Very funny guys. I have also heard of it as \"it\'s like putting whipped cream on a turd...\"

    One thing I have done is to have an illustration of a orchestral seating chart right in front of me on the wall. I am constantly looking at it for reference (not to say ya can\'t break those rules or try something different but it reminds me of the general placement of the sections.) The trick is to see this 2-D picture in 3-D and get THAT sound (depth, width and height).

    Once that is obtained, then I try to get \'some air\' around these sampled sections (for me that is the toughest.) I really think that is as much arranging and writing as mixing.

    Rob

  7. #7

    Re: Getting "the sound".....

    This is where QLSO shines big time.
    Dave

  8. #8

    Re: Getting "the sound".....

    Originally posted by Rob Elliott:
    Very funny guys. I have also heard of it as \"it\'s like putting whipped cream on a turd...\"
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">That\'s kind of like the butt-hair soup joke...

    How many butt hairs does it take to make butt-hair soup?

    Just one.

    I guess the audio corrolary is that one bad track can ruin a whole mix.

    Soup anyone?

  9. #9

    Re: Getting "the sound".....

    Okay, that made me laugh!

  10. #10

    Re: Getting "the sound".....

    Hi Scott..good topic.

    Rob, what do you mean about putting air inbetween the instruments.

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