Old 3rd December 2007
  #1
Great Things Studios
 
Ntchi's Avatar
 

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PAIN Frequency

Hi!

I'd like to know somethig from you Gurus out there! I've been mixing RnB vocal for a while now and always end up with one comon problem...especially with female singer. There is part of there singing where frequency literraly create pain at a certain point. And i'd like to know which one exactly. I think its around 3 to 6khz but I'm not sure. I use volume riding and eq to remove them by ear. But i'd like to know more about this topic. Is there really frequency that should NEVER go aver a certain volume in vocals? ex:5khz never over -12db?

P-S: I monitor my mixes at 80 to 85db
Old 3rd December 2007
  #2
Lives for gear
 

You shouldn't need to cut those frequencies. sounds like a nasty signal chain. What's your signal chain? Mic, mic pre, interface...
Old 3rd December 2007
  #3
Gear Head
 
streetvibes's Avatar
 

I aint a guru,
but I occasionally find the 4k area "screamy" too,
reasons and solutions are many, but a little (digital) eq surgery usually does the trick.

"Is there really frequency that should NEVER go aver a certain volume in vocals? ex:5khz never over -12db?"
Not really i guess, it always depends"
Old 3rd December 2007
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntchi View Post
Hi!

I'd like to know somethig from you Gurus out there! I've been mixing RnB vocal for a while now and always end up with one comon problem...especially with female singer. There is part of there singing where frequency literraly create pain at a certain point. And i'd like to know which one exactly. I think its around 3 to 6khz but I'm not sure. I use volume riding and eq to remove them by ear. But i'd like to know more about this topic. Is there really frequency that should NEVER go aver a certain volume in vocals? ex:5khz never over -12db?

P-S: I monitor my mixes at 80 to 85db
I've found that it's not so much about the amplitude of the frequency, but about phase-related issues, frequency-specific distortion, etc.

Maybe your mic's transient response is fast/peakier/harsher between 3 and 6k. Maybe your preamp's adding some harmonic distortion in that area. Maybe your singer's going off axis and the off-axis frequency response of your mic gets smeary at 4k. It could really be any of those things. It's the stuff that makes "Mic-modelling" plugins useless, and the reason some of us will pay $10,000 for a real-deal U47, when third party Chinese manufacturers are building $800 "clones" with the same PRINTED frequency response.

What kinda mics are you using? What kind of preamps? How about your monitoring rig? Sampling rate? Plugins? Outboard? All these things can factor in...if you're mixing vocals that you've recorded and having problems, I'd suggest you zero in on what is causing the problem.

How about more info on your rig?
Old 3rd December 2007
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntchi View Post
Is there really frequency that should NEVER go aver a certain volume in vocals? ex:5khz never over -12db?
the ear is most sensitive in the 3-4k region, so it's likely that's the area that's causing problems.

regarding the above point - you don't seem to understand decibels. It's a ratio, and needs to be qualified by the scale you're working to. Hence you can have a mix peaking at -3dBFs (ie relative to full scale, "all bits on"), or your reference to monitoring at 80-85dB - here it's referring to SPL (ie it's a ratio of 2 pressure levels). You can refer to gain (ie making something 6dB louder) without qualifying it further, because the ratio is between the before and after volume levels.

Now, I'm sure you've got zero interest in all of this, since you want to be making music not learning physics (although it's good engineering practice to have at least a passing knowledge of all this). However, it does serve to illustrate why "should 5k never go over 12dB" is a nonsensical statement. 12dB what? -12dBFs? well, it depends on what the rest of your track is doing.

There's no rules when it comes to this sort of thing. I'm with the previous poster - sounds like you've got some issues with your recording chain and/or lack of experience with EQ.
Old 3rd December 2007
  #6
Great Things Studios
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
the ear is most sensitive in the 3-4k region, so it's likely that's the area that's causing problems.

regarding the above point - you don't seem to understand decibels. It's a ratio, and needs to be qualified by the scale you're working to. Hence you can have a mix peaking at -3dBFs (ie relative to full scale, "all bits on"), or your reference to monitoring at 80-85dB - here it's referring to SPL (ie it's a ratio of 2 pressure levels). You can refer to gain (ie making something 6dB louder) without qualifying it further, because the ratio is between the before and after volume levels.

Now, I'm sure you've got zero interest in all of this, since you want to be making music not learning physics (although it's good engineering practice to have at least a passing knowledge of all this). However, it does serve to illustrate why "should 5k never go over 12dB" is a nonsensical statement. 12dB what? -12dBFs? well, it depends on what the rest of your track is doing.

There's no rules when it comes to this sort of thing. I'm with the previous poster - sounds like you've got some issues with your recording chain and/or lack of experience with EQ.
Oh thats very interesting, can you explain me more about this. I understand what you mean by before and after volume. But how does in tranlaste in my problem? When I monitor the mix without EQs I PERCEIVE the 3 to 6k range to be painful, or rather harh. So yes my statement was wrong according to what you've just said... Thx!

But now, how do I pin point the bad freq? Is there a technical trick? or I really have to go there by ear? I often use the DQ1 dynamic EQ to trigger the eq on a certain tresh. Any other suggestion?

My chain is this one:

SE Electronic H3500 > Chandler Germanium > Focusrite Voicemaster PRo (shaving 2 or 3db max) > DAW (UAD compressor to taste)

or

Neumann TLM103 > Chandler Germanium > Focusrite Voicemaster PRo (shaving 2 or 3db max) > DAW (UAD compressor to taste)

or

Neumann TLM49 > Chandler Germanium > Focusrite Voicemaster PRo (shaving 2 or 3db max) > DAW (UAD compressor to taste)
Old 3rd December 2007
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntchi View Post
My chain is this one:

SE Electronic H3500 > Chandler Germanium > Focusrite Voicemaster PRo (shaving 2 or 3db max) > DAW (UAD compressor to taste)

or

Neumann TLM103 > Chandler Germanium > Focusrite Voicemaster PRo (shaving 2 or 3db max) > DAW (UAD compressor to taste)

or

Neumann TLM49 > Chandler Germanium > Focusrite Voicemaster PRo (shaving 2 or 3db max) > DAW (UAD compressor to taste)
I'm not familiar with the SE mic you use, but the other two, while not great, aren't total crap (despite the regular flamings that the 103 gets here on GS). And the Germanium is far from "harsh"-sounding, so I'd suspect one of three things:

- your compressor is the culprit, either due to attack/release/ratio settings, or due to the fact that maybe it just sucks (I've never used a Voicemaster, though my experience with lower-end to middle-end Focusrite compression has underwhelmed me), or
- you've got the wrong mic for your vocalist, or
- your vocal room has some acoustic problems that are emphasizing that 3-4k range. Perhaps your vocalists are near a hard, reflective surface (Control Room glass, for example)?

I hope you get it sorted out, brother. Good luck!
Old 3rd December 2007
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntchi View Post
Oh thats very interesting, can you explain me more about this. I understand what you mean by before and after volume. But how does in tranlaste in my problem? When I monitor the mix without EQs I PERCEIVE the 3 to 6k range to be painful, or rather harh. So yes my statement was wrong according to what you've just said... Thx!
as far as EQing go...I'm afraid that's up to you! A matter of mix and match equipment, to find the best combination and setting for a particular performer...and learning how to mix.

Now, the decibel... I'm referencing Decibel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia :

"When referring to measurements of power or intensity, a ratio can be expressed in decibels by evaluating ten times the base-10 logarithm of the ratio of the measured quantity to the reference level. Thus, XdB is calculated using the formula:

where X is the actual value of the quantity being measured, X0 is a specified or implied reference level, and then XdB is the quantity expressed in units of decibels, relative to X

So:

dB(SPL)
dB (Sound Pressure Level) — for sound in air and other gases, relative to 20 micropascals (μPa) = 2×10−5 Pa, the quietest sound a human can hear. This is roughly the sound of a mosquito flying 3 metres away. This is often abbreviated to just "dB", which gives some the erroneous notion that "dB" is an absolute unit by itself. For sound in water and other liquids, a reference pressure of 1 μPa is used.[6]

As you were using it...which is ok!

dBu or dBv
dB(0.775 VRMS) — voltage relative to 0.775 volts.[4] Originally dBv, it was changed to dBu to avoid confusion with dBV (citation needed - I'm not sure that's totally right) The "v" comes from "volt", while "u" comes from "unloaded". dBu can be used regardless of impedance, but is derived from a 600 Ω load dissipating 0 dBm (1 mW).

this is used with +4dBv and -10dBu nominal levels ie pro and semi pro gear.

dBFS or dBfs
dB(full scale) — the amplitude of a signal (usually audio) compared to the maximum which a device can handle before clipping occurs. In digital systems, 0 dBFS (peak) would equal the highest level (number) the processor is capable of representing. Measured values are usually negative, since they should be less than the maximum.

−3 dB ≈ ½ power
A level difference of ±3 dB is roughly double/half power (equal to a ratio of 1.995). That is why it is commonly used as a marking on sound equipment and the like.
Another common sequence is 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 ... . These preferred numbers are very close to being equally spaced in terms of their logarithms. The actual values would be 1, 2.15, 4.64, 10 ... .
The conversion for decibels is often simplified to: "+3 dB means two times the power and 1.414 times the voltage", and "+6 dB means four times the power and two times the voltage ".


6 dB per bit
In digital audio linear pulse-code modulation, the first bit (least significant bit, or LSB) produces residual quantization noise (bearing little resemblance to the source signal) and each subsequent bit offered by the system doubles the (voltage) resolution, corresponding to a 6 dB (power) ratio. So for instance, a 16-bit (linear) audio format offers 15 bits beyond the first, for a dynamic range (between quantization noise and clipping) of (15 × 6) = 90 dB, meaning that the maximum signal (see 0 dBFS, above) is 90 dB above the theoretical peak(s) of quantization noise. The negative impacts of quantization noise can be reduced by implementing dither."

Ok, so I'm just copying and pasting from the original page now. I did a degree in music + acoustics, so this is quite familiar territory...but I've forgotten quite a bit of it! it is useful to know...for example, if you're bouncing something dual mono (ie a stereo file but with identical signals L+R) through a buss to a mono track, the level will double - or go up by 6dB.
Old 3rd December 2007
  #9
Lives for gear
 
verb1's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntchi View Post
how do I pin point the bad freq?
Go into your EQ, set the Q to the narrowest range, boost the level up 9db or so, sweep around with the EQ and listen for when the annoying frequency pops out. That's your problem frequency. Just cut that frequency until it sounds ok. There's no real replacement for your ears.
Old 4th December 2007
  #10
Great Things Studios
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
−3 dB ≈ ½ power
A level difference of ±3 dB is roughly double/half power (equal to a ratio of 1.995). That is why it is commonly used as a marking on sound equipment and the like.
Another common sequence is 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 ... . These preferred numbers are very close to being equally spaced in terms of their logarithms. The actual values would be 1, 2.15, 4.64, 10 ... .
The conversion for decibels is often simplified to: "+3 dB means two times the power and 1.414 times the voltage", and "+6 dB means four times the power and two times the voltage ".
if a 3db boost means twice the power. Doest it mean you perceive twice louder also? Because when I boost something 3db it dont sound 2 time louder.
Old 4th December 2007
  #11
Gear addict
 
ninjasoards's Avatar
 

Have u tried a de-esser?

The waves de-esser works pretty well. U can set it to the the undesireable frequency and then set it like a comp and it removes that frequency by a certain amount whenever it crosses the threshold. So it removes it when necessary but not all the time.
Old 4th December 2007
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntchi View Post
if a 3db boost means twice the power. Doest it mean you perceive twice louder also? Because when I boost something 3db it dont sound 2 time louder.
No, that article (not my words - copied straight from wiki) is phrased a little weirdly. 6dB is a doubling of loudness. Try it. Take a mono source - send it to left and right. Duplicate the track - send it to left and right. Mix buss level should go up by 6dB!
Old 5th December 2007
  #13
Great Things Studios
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
No, that article (not my words - copied straight from wiki) is phrased a little weirdly. 6dB is a doubling of loudness. Try it. Take a mono source - send it to left and right. Duplicate the track - send it to left and right. Mix buss level should go up by 6dB!
Ya Indeed! But is there some criteria by witch a sound gets annoying? I mean, how do professional engineer fix cheap ass vocals that sound harsh cuz they where tracked in a living room with a behringer mic? How to properly remove harsness without killing dynamic or foundamental frequencies?
Old 5th December 2007
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntchi View Post
I mean, how do professional engineer fix cheap ass vocals that sound harsh cuz they where tracked in a living room with a behringer mic? How to properly remove harsness without killing dynamic or foundamental frequencies?
The solution is that professional engineers avoid that situation as much as possible!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntchi View Post
How to properly remove harsness without killing dynamic or foundamental frequencies?
I can tell you what I'd experiment with--throw a band limited compressor on the offensive range so that it only trips when the singer hits those particular notes to bring it down a bit.

Or you can get all Mutt Lange on it and automate your EQ for each word/phrase/whatever.

Personally, if I'm the recording guy I try to avoid that situation with choosing the best mic for their voice. You may have to go through a couple to find what works best. Mic selection can make huge differences when it comes to vocals.

Mic placement plays a role as well. If they are nasal and strident try to get the mic away from their nose and have it more at lower lip/chin level, or pointing down a bit towards their chest. Sometimes backing them up to about 18" can smooth things out as well. Just do a little experimentation to try to get the best thing tracked... hopefully you'll have to do less surgery when it comes to be mix time.

And then there's always the philosophy that some people just suck or have a bad tone and nothing you do is going to make it sound great. So just do your job and minimize the crap, get the session over and done with and move on to someone with talent.
Old 5th December 2007
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ntchi View Post
Ya Indeed! But is there some criteria by witch a sound gets annoying? I mean, how do professional engineer fix cheap ass vocals that sound harsh cuz they where tracked in a living room with a behringer mic? How to properly remove harsness without killing dynamic or foundamental frequencies?
The criteria is when it sounds good, it's good. No formulas, no rules.

Good quality EQ, compression,valves, notch EQ etc is the way engineers deal with it. The better the source, the better the result. A well tracked vocal is always going to be easier to deal with than a badly tracked one.
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