Distressor ratios and AC30s
Mho
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#1
10th August 2011
Old 10th August 2011
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Distressor ratios and AC30s

First of all, a big thank you. This is BY FAR, the best Q&A on GS ever, and I have read all of them. It shows how passionate you are and how you really enjoy talking about your stuff. I have 2 questions: -Being a huge distressor fan, wich ratios/modes do you like? Aside from drums, do you use it on guitars/bass? -Extremely geeky question: what kind of mics you use on AC30s? You always seem to get amazing tones out of them. How is your aproach to back micking the cab? - sorry, I gotta make a third question! How was the GREAT bass tone on Losing a Whole Year made?
#2
10th August 2011
Old 10th August 2011
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Hi Eric,

Thanks so much for doing this, I'm really enjoying it all!

I have a further question about your use of Distressors on the drum bus:

I have been using them in this application for as long as I can remember but I often struggle with attack times. I find it hard to balance the amount of transient I want to hear vs. the overall "loudness" of the mix. Just curious how you approach this with ratios and attack settings.

Thanks again,

Willie Samuels
#3
11th August 2011
Old 11th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mho View Post
First of all, a big thank you. This is BY FAR, the best Q&A on GS ever, and I have read all of them. It shows how passionate you are and how you really enjoy talking about your stuff. I have 2 questions: -Being a huge distressor fan, wich ratios/modes do you like?
On the distressors I mostly use the 4 highest ratios (6:1, 10:1, 20:1, nuke). On the drum buss I almost always have both the HP and the peak engaged on the side chain. Attack times are always slowish 10-8, release times are always fastish 0-4. I only own one pair that has both the brit mod and the stereo link mod. I never use either. I have played with the brit mod but it has never worked better for me than the original regular old distressor mode. The original "link" mode I think is better as well. It is more forgiving when you have a really loud floor tom panned to one side of the drum mix.

Quote:
I have a further question about your use of Distressors on the drum bus:

I have been using them in this application for as long as I can remember but I often struggle with attack times. I find it hard to balance the amount of transient I want to hear vs. the overall "loudness" of the mix. Just curious how you approach this with ratios and attack settings.

Thanks again,

Willie Samuels
The character of the attack on the drums is something I seem to be very sensitive to and have struggled with over the years as well. The best I can figure is that it seems to have more to do with the source material than the distressors them selves. I find that if the attack time on the distressors gets much faster than about 8 the sound really starts recede to much. Unfortunately, with some drum sounds the slower attack times leave to much of that clicky sound at the beginning of the hit. This has been way more of a problem for me when trying to mix digital recordings. Analog recording tends to soften that initial transient click sound and blend it into the body of the sound better. I find in general it is easier for me to really stomp on a drum recording with compression when it is coming off of tape. All the attacks just sound more natural to me. I pretty much just stick with the 10-8 range on the attack time and play with adding just enough distortion (beyond what is inherent in the distressor itself) before and/or after the distressor to help the compression sound more natural. The best is always analog tape. I also will push the channel strips on the UTA console to get a little even order distorion, and sometimes I use a chandler tube drive on an effects send to blend back in with the compressed signal to help smooth things together.

Quote:
Aside from drums, do you use it on guitars/bass?
I do! I like it a lot on guitars and vocals. I haven't had as much luck with it on bass but occasionally if I am doing something very extreme compression wise on the bass the distressor has worked. I mentioned a particular example of that in this post: Smash Mouth Bass guitar

Quote:
-Extremely geeky question: what kind of mics you use on AC30s? You always seem to get amazing tones out of them. How is your approach to back micking the cab?
I did find a mic that has really become a favorite for me on AC30s. it is the Neumann M-582. I put one on the front side and one on the back side. I would say 80%-90% of Johns guitar on the recent TBS record went through that setup. Also pretty much all of the guitar on the Persephonee's Bees record used that setup. that was the album on which I discovered it. I usually put the front mic 6"-12" away at a little bit of an angle pointed at the center of the speaker. This avoids having the mic pointed directly at the wooden diffuser brace that sits right in fron of the cone on AC30s. The back mic is always a mirror image of that to try to have the phasing somewhat relevant between the 2 mics. Sometimes I HP the front mic and pull out some of the real nasaly mid range on the back mic before I blend them together.

Quote:
- sorry, I gotta make a third question! How was the GREAT bass tone on Losing a Whole Year made?
I put all of the 3EB bass info in this thread.. including the Losing A WHole Year sound. Third Eye Blind bass tone

EV
#4
11th August 2011
Old 11th August 2011
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Thanks Eric!

Great info. I am doing many similar things with using tape, tape emulators, old tube and transformer gear to round of peaks a little. But I have definitely been setting my attack much faster... I will definitely try slowing the attack down a lot and dealing with the source a little more!

Thanks again for doing this, so much great info!!!!

-Willie
Mho
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13th August 2011
Old 13th August 2011
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Thank you Eric! Do you use the Dist modes on drums? Trick: Do you know the link setting engaged for extra grit?
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13th August 2011
Old 13th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mho View Post
Thank you Eric! Do you use the Dist modes on drums? Trick: Do you know the link setting engaged for extra grit?
I have not had much luck with the Dist modes for drums. I like the amount of distortion the distressors add when they are in their normal mode. Whenever I've tried the distortion modes the drums seem to loose to much of their punch and strength. I have had good luck with the dist modes on vocals as a more extreme effect.

This is how I approach adding distortion to drums and other things. There is a distinct difference between "Harmonic Distortion" and "Clipping". I think those 2 things get confused sometimes. Pretty much all amplifiers or gain stages in electronic circuits follow some form of this behavior. As level is increased the harmonic distortion content will increase. This means that you will be adding more of either an octave (2nd order) overtone or an octave + 5th (3rd harmonic) overtone in a pretty predictable way. There is a very specific threshold where the gain stage transitions into clipping. The harmonic distortion pretty much instantly jumps 100 times and the overtones them selves get very deformed and unpredictable. The other thing that happens is that the original waveform starts to collapse and get terribly deformed. Just so you know how quickly this happens you can be listening to beautiful 2nd order harmonics at +26.5dB and then have hideously deformed clipped waveforms at +27dB.

What I try to do is get as much actual harmonic distortion from a particular device or gain stage as I can without transitioning into clipping. If I am still needing more harmonic distortion I get it from another device or gain stage. The effect is that the sound keeps getting thicker and it never collapses into clipping. You can keep adding layers of harmonic distortion from multiple devices to get the sound to be thick and not loose the punch and strength of the original sound.

The distressor ends up being just one of the stages I use. It has never worked for me to try and get it all from just that device.

EV
Mho
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13th August 2011
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Amazing thx! I always found the dist modes pretty subtle, at least working with 3-5db GR wich is what I am used to. And one last distressor question, how do you use the band sidechain thing? Is it for taming mids?
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13th August 2011
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Originally Posted by Mho View Post
Amazing thx! I always found the dist modes pretty subtle, at least working with 3-5db GR wich is what I am used to. And one last distressor question, how do you use the band sidechain thing? Is it for taming mids?
On a drum mix I use both the HP and the PEAK. I think of it as being less sensitive to low end/kick drum. I like it because it doesn't over compress/turn down the kick drum too much in the drum mix.

EV
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13th August 2011
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Super cool info here! I am REALLY enjoying these Q & A's. I haven't been so inspired in a long time.

Much appreciated Eric!
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13th August 2011
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Great Distressor info, thanks Eric!

Was the Distressor also used to achieve the distortion on the vocals in Girls & Boys by Good Charlotte?
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13th August 2011
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Originally Posted by rhythmic5 View Post
Great Distressor info, thanks Eric!

Was the Distressor also used to achieve the distortion on the vocals in Girls & Boys by Good Charlotte?
That album was mixed on the Neve 8128 console. One of the coolest tricks on that console was plugging a line level signal into the mic pre input on one of the channels. It created this very thick full range distortion that blended in perfectly with the source track. I used it all the time on vocals, I was doing that all the way back to the first Smash Mouth record. I am 99% sure that is the effect you are hearing on the vocals on that song.

EV
Mho
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14th August 2011
Old 14th August 2011
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Big thank you for all the responses. I don't know if this is starting to ask too much but, how much gain reduction do you like on drums? (well drums, bass, guits...) Some people like CLA or TLA just slam the meters full to the left. Some other guys just take a couple dbs... What do you use to do? Thank you.
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