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What about headroom on the bus mix?
Old 29th August 2006
  #1
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What about headroom on the bus mix?

Hey Bruce,

So if you're not using compression, or not a lot, I can imagine you'll be having a lot of dynamic range in your mixes. How do you deal with that on the mix-bus?

I mean, do you put a limiter on it, a bus-compressor (if so which one?)?

Or do you just record it a few dB from the max and let the mastering engineer do whatever he wants tih it? If so, do you tell the M.E. then "No maximizing! No heavy limiting on my tracks!"?

Thanks.
Cheers
Lawrence
Old 31st August 2006
  #2
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Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

They are ready!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lawrence_o View Post
Hey Bruce,

So if you're not using compression, or not a lot, I can imagine you'll be having a lot of dynamic range in your mixes. How do you deal with that on the mix-bus?

I mean, do you put a limiter on it, a bus-compressor (if so which one?)?

Or do you just record it a few dB from the max and let the mastering engineer do whatever he wants tih it? If so, do you tell the M.E. then "No maximizing! No heavy limiting on my tracks!"?

Thanks.
Cheers
Lawrence
Lawrence.....

When my mixes go to the mastering room, they don't need much. They are ready!!! Of course that sounds a bit egotistical, but I always strive for that...

If you can, ask Bernie Grundman...

I'm sorry, but it sounds to me like you are listening to what your pals tell you to do! All that compression and limiting is ABSOLUTELY UNNECESSARY!!! It only minimizes the drama of the music!!! At least that's what I think....

If you don't allow those transients to live, you are destroying the most dramatic element in "Pop" music!!! Here's what I am talking about....

I am frequently asked to define transient response, as it applies to music recording. Here are some of my toughts on this very important subject.

First let’s try to define the basic issue.

A- Transient response in electronic recording equipment, is the ability of a device or electronic component, to handle and faithfully reproduce sudden waveforms called transients. A transient is a short duration, high level sonic energy peak, such as a hand-clap ot snare drum hit. Any sound source in the percussion family requires excellent transient response in the recording equipment to sound real.

B- To me, a sound transient is the steep wave-front of the sound. In other words, the transient of the sound is the first impact of the sound before the sound falls and begins to decay, or die.

Good transient response is especially important when recording acoustic instruments. This is one case where it’s extremely important for one to have equipment that is able to capture as much of the initial transient as possible, and all it’s accompanying delicate details.

In the music that I am normally involved in, I have always felt that good transient response is one of the very most important components of the recorded image. I would even go so far as to say that transient response has at it’s core a direct relationship to the emotional impact of a recording. Particularily in the main genre’s of music that I record.... namely R & B and ‘Pop’ recordings.

Faithful recording and reproduction of sound source transients make the strong rhythmic elements of music much more dramatic. These are the elements that are so important to R & B and ‘Pop’ recordings, such as the ‘Kick’ drun, the ‘Snare’ drum, hand-claps, percussion...etc.

I think that well recorded transients give R & B and ‘Pop’ recordings a feeling of tremendous energy.

To me, compression and limiting diminish the drama of sound source transients in recorded music. Along that same line of thinking, I should also point out that I am not a big fan of over-compression and over-limiting anywhere during the recording process.

To me, when R & B and ‘Pop’ recordings are over-compressed and over-limited they lack the extemely fundamental qualities of both primitive energy and smooth high-frequencies.

The reason that over-compressed and over-limited recordings lose high end energy, is that much of the sound energy in a recording is concentrated in the lower frequencies. These low-end signals will negatively influence a wide-band compressor’s operation, causing higher frequencies to be attenuated during peaks in level, making the music sound dull and lifeless.

Personally, I love transients and what they do to dramatize music. let them live! If a recording is over-compressed, it will always be over-compressed. In other words, it will sound dull and lifeless forever!

Bruce Swedien

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Old 31st August 2006
  #3
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joaquin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
...To me, compression and limiting diminish the drama of sound source transients in recorded music. Along that same line of thinking, I should also point out that I am not a big fan of over-compression and over-limiting anywhere during the recording process.

To me, when R & B and ‘Pop’ recordings are over-compressed and over-limited they lack the extemely fundamental qualities of both primitive energy and smooth high-frequencies.

The reason that over-compressed and over-limited recordings lose high end energy, is that much of the sound energy in a recording is concentrated in the lower frequencies. These low-end signals will negatively influence a wide-band compressor’s operation, causing higher frequencies to be attenuated during peaks in level, making the music sound dull and lifeless.

Personally, I love transients and what they do to dramatize music. let them live! If a recording is over-compressed, it will always be over-compressed. In other words, it will sound dull and lifeless forever!

Bruce Swedien

Hi Mr. Swedien.
For what I understood you are against "Over-Compression"...but not completely against the use of this tool!?...if so how do you use it?
Thank!
PS. How loud is "good" for your mixes and how do you measure it?
Thanks again!
Old 1st September 2006
  #4
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Thank You, Bruce!

Bruce

Thanks for your comments about excessive compression. I heartily agree. Two observations popped into mind - the way some engineers are mixing and the way many consumers are listening.

"Mixing" these days seems to strive for removing the dynamics of every track so that a song nearly mixes itself or requires a minium of fader moves.

"Listening" in the iPod age allows everyone their own jukebox - what consumers want is for all songs at the same level. Even though we are at the peak of the dynamics wars - or lack of same - it is very hard for engineers to convince their clients that louder is not better.

This puts the engineer / entrepreneur at odds with classic american capitalism - give the customer what they want - horrible, loud, distorted sound - or lose work because we haven't or won't. Personally, I'd rather not have that kind of work.

All along I've wondered whether perhaps listeners were losing their ability to turn up the volume on softer tracks - laziness? loss of an arm, hand or fingers - but then I realized that REAL jukeboxes had Automatic Gain Control (AGC) to make all records sound about as loud. I think, iPods need to have a simiar option (my plasma TV has it).

Now, before we get into how good or bad consumer DSP might be, one option might be to push for Dynamics DSP for iPods (and similar devices) along with the ability to turn it off. Then we can go back to making dynamic mixes, rather than kissing he ass of the digital zero dominatirx al the time.

best wishes to all.

good night and good luck,

eddie ciletti
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Old 1st September 2006
  #5
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Lando Calrissian's Avatar
 

A very sound argument Bruce, thanks.
Old 1st September 2006
  #6
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stevep's Avatar
Thumbs up

Quote:
Bruce Swedien .I'm sorry, but it sounds to me like you are listening to what your pals tell you to do! All that compression and limiting is ABSOLUTELY UNNECESSARY!!! It only minimizes the drama of the music!!! At least that's what I think
I totally agree ,

After all these years of recording and mixing i have never sent a compressed mix to the mastering guys.


This could be good news to someone who is thinking about dropping 3000$ on some buss compressor.

Save your $$$$


Nice thread !





steve




Old 1st September 2006
  #7
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Max headroom's Avatar
 

It might be a stupid question , but how do I reach - 12 RMS ( like most modern recordings ) if I don't use compression ????

Cheers


Max
Old 1st September 2006
  #8
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Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

"What about headroom on the mix bus!"

Lawrence....

Your post should read - "What about headroom on the mix bus!"

Bruce
Old 1st September 2006
  #9
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TheSweetener's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
If a recording is over-compressed, it will always be over-compressed. In other words, it will sound dull and lifeless forever!

Bruce Swedien
Are there any Pop or Rock recordings these days that are not overlimited? I don't know any rock recording these days that has a RMS peak under -9bdfs.

(Perhaps the new Iron Maiden record, Haven't heard it yet)
Old 2nd September 2006
  #10
Gear Head
 

Thank you

Bruce,

It is refreshing to hear your views of compression, or lack there of. For some reason I have been brainwashed into thinking that in order to "sound professional" compression was necessary all the time. I think that your record speaks for itself.

Back to my roots! Stay away from compression....because back then I could not afford it. he he



S
Old 2nd September 2006
  #11
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BradM's Avatar
So to clarify--you are saying you use NO mix buss compression and leave it upto the mastering engineer?

As a follow-up question: at what level do you reference your peaks when working in a digital medium? Do you shoot for peaks at -6 dBFS on your digital mixes? Higher, lower? Maybe I'm being presumptuous in assuming that you even work with digital.

Thanks for all your thoughtful insight!

Brad
Old 2nd September 2006
  #12
Here for the gear
 

So, basically, what you are theorizing, is that sound, reproduced, should replicate (to the best of it's ability) what actual sound ... and I use this term loosely, "sounds" like?

Given the conceptual environment these days, that's a very advanced proposal!

Kev-
Old 2nd September 2006
  #13
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absrec's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
Lawrence.....

When my mixes go to the mastering room, they don't need much. They are ready!!! Of course that sounds a bit egotistical, but I always strive for that...

If you can, ask Bernie Grundman...

I'm sorry, but it sounds to me like you are listening to what your pals tell you to do! All that compression and limiting is ABSOLUTELY UNNECESSARY!!! It only minimizes the drama of the music!!! At least that's what I think....
So, do you spend a lot of time making players play consistently? Do you spend a lot of time tracking? Do you ride faders like crazy during tracking and mixdown? Maybe you have the priveldge of working with the industry's finest players on a daily basis? I don't know what I'd do without compression. To me, recordings are lifeless without it.
Old 2nd September 2006
  #14
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lawrence_o's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
Lawrence....

Your post should read - "What about headroom on the mix bus!"

Bruce
Holy Mozes! You're right.

On the other hand, mayby I meant bus mix as in the mix going through the bus
Subtle difference hehe

Cheers.
Old 2nd September 2006
  #15
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StoneinaPond's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
...The reason that over-compressed and over-limited recordings lose high end energy, is that much of the sound energy in a recording is concentrated in the lower frequencies. These low-end signals will negatively influence a wide-band compressor’s operation, causing higher frequencies to be attenuated during peaks in level, making the music sound dull and lifeless...

Bruce Swedien
The best pearls of wisdom are often buried.
Old 5th September 2006
  #16
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huarez's Avatar
 

Thank you very much for your angagement to more Dynamic mixes. I just bought a record with music I really like, but I couldn´t stand listen to it!!!! Damn - it had cost 16 Euros! The first few songs kick you off your shoes, but then the ears start hurting...
Old 5th September 2006
  #17
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BradM's Avatar
Ahh...but if you use a LP filter in the sidechain of the "wideband" compressors then the density of low frequency energy in the mix won't cause the higher frequencies to be attenuated during peaks in level. Isn't this the whole point of the "Thrust" circuit in the API compressor?

Brad
Old 6th September 2006
  #18
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Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

Leave WHAT up to the mastering engineer?????

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
So to clarify--you are saying you use NO mix buss compression and leave it upto the mastering engineer?

As a follow-up question: at what level do you reference your peaks when working in a digital medium? Do you shoot for peaks at -6 dBFS on your digital mixes? Higher, lower? Maybe I'm being presumptuous in assuming that you even work with digital.

Thanks for all your thoughtful insight!

Brad
Brad, my Pal......

Leave WHAT up to the mastering engineer????? My mixes SOUND LIKE RECORDS WHEN I bring them to the Mastering Room....

What is all this B--- Sh-- about???---------->at what level do you reference your peaks when working in a digital medium? Do you shoot for peaks at -6 dBFS on your digital mixes? Higher, lower? Maybe I'm being presumptuous in assuming that you even work with digital.-----------> What is all this B--- Sh-- about???

What happened to your ears???

Bruce


Old 6th September 2006
  #19
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Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

What the F--- is this???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
Ahh...but if you use a LP filter in the sidechain of the "wideband" compressors then the density of low frequency energy in the mix won't cause the higher frequencies to be attenuated during peaks in level. Isn't this the whole point of the "Thrust" circuit in the API compressor?

Brad
Brad Darling.......

What the F--- is this???------------>Ahh...but if you use a LP filter in the sidechain of the "wideband" compressors then the density of low frequency energy in the mix won't cause the higher frequencies to be attenuated during peaks in level. Isn't this the whole point of the "Thrust" circuit in the API compressor?--------------->What the F--- is this???

We need to talk.....

Bruce Swedien




Old 6th September 2006
  #20
Viking
 
Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

I don't remember eever saying anything like that!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Dub View Post
So, basically, what you are theorizing, is that sound, reproduced, should replicate (to the best of it's ability) what actual sound ... and I use this term loosely, "sounds" like?

Given the conceptual environment these days, that's a very advanced proposal!

Kev-
Kev.....

Did I say that??? I don't remember ever saying anything like that!!! I couldn't say that!!!

Bruce Swedien

Old 7th September 2006
  #21
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
Brad Darling.......

What the F--- is this???------------>Ahh...but if you use a LP filter in the sidechain of the "wideband" compressors then the density of low frequency energy in the mix won't cause the higher frequencies to be attenuated during peaks in level. Isn't this the whole point of the "Thrust" circuit in the API compressor?--------------->What the F--- is this???

We need to talk.....

Bruce Swedien

I guess I need to be straightened out. Feel free to contact me through my email or PM and I'll send you my number.

Brad
Old 7th September 2006
  #22
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post

What is all this B--- Sh-- about???---------->at what level do you reference your peaks when working in a digital medium? Do you shoot for peaks at -6 dBFS on your digital mixes? Higher, lower? Maybe I'm being presumptuous in assuming that you even work with digital.-----------> What is all this B--- Sh-- about???

What happened to your ears???

Bruce


I honestly think it's a legitimate question especially when talking about maintaining 100% of transients and using no bus compression. Perhaps I misunderstood something you wrote. It seems logical to me that if you are sensitive to preserving transients then you would be very careful to not clip your digital mix bus or your D/A converters. Doing so would only be robbing you of the transients you fight so hard to capture and preserve, wouldn't it? I guess I'm missing something...

Perhaps I should have phrased my question as: do you pay careful to metering and digital overs when printing your digital mixes?

Regarding not leaving anything upto mastering engineers because they sound like records.... I guess I don't understand that statement fully. Does the mastering engineer apply any limiting to the final mixes before they get pressed into CD's? I know if I just sent my mixes to the CD plant without having them mastered with 2-bus limiting then the average level would be about -20 dBFS. I guess I still have yet to learn the tricks of the trade that allow me to create a mix with exciting average level and good transient response.

I really hope I'm not coming across like some contradictory jerk. I'm really very intrigued and curious about your methods and am hoping to better understand them so that I learn something and can ultimately improve my own recordings. I know very little compared to a veteran in the industry like yourself so I welcome this opportunity to expand my own approach to making music.

sincerely,
Brad
Old 7th September 2006
  #23
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whitepapagold's Avatar
 

Bruce, you couldn't possibly make this more fun! What, and you expect us to LISTEN to what we are doing? NO I WANT METERS! I love hearing your opinion on compression! Ive been smashing the life out of music at the clients request for the past year and a half now- but I can't argue with the clients( Im nobody, NO ONE LISTENS!) Maybe I should send them links to this. I destroyed 2.5 hours of music this week alone- HELP! thumbsup
Old 7th September 2006
  #24
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If I may,

part of the disjoint is that not everyone gets to work with musicians of the caliber that Bruce does. Some music is actually a dynamic horror show and needs to be manhandled into place to make it feel like music.

I spend a lot of time making rock records by band with a lot of energy but less control over their instruments and some serious misconceptions about how to communicate their musical intentions. Added to this is a lot of bad habits that they can get away with during live performances. I have to compress them a lot to reign things in.

At the flip side, I spent 4 years sharing a studio with the guy who got the Tony for best score last year (Adam Guettel, Light in the Piazza.) Now, this is not stuff that you can compress. It is music and performances at their highest level and dynamics processing just screws it up. GML pre, good mic at good distance from sound, add reverb to compensate for lesser recording room, recording done.

So, that would be my take.

Great musicians playing good arrangements of good music = less compression
Lesser musicans playing lesser arrangements of lesser music = more compression
Old 7th September 2006
  #25
Viking
 
Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

Think about my answer...

Quote:
Originally Posted by joaquin View Post
Hi Mr. Swedien.
For what I understood you are against "Over-Compression"...but not completely against the use of this tool!?...if so how do you use it?
Thank!
PS. How loud is "good" for your mixes and how do you measure it?
Thanks again!
Joaquin My Friend...

I like your question - "How loud is "good" for your mixes and how do you measure it?"

Brucie The Platinum Viking answers - With the best audio measuring intrument in my studio!!!! Now... think about my answer...

Bruce Swedien
Old 8th September 2006
  #26
Gear addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
Joaquin My Friend...

I like your question - "How loud is "good" for your mixes and how do you measure it?"

Brucie The Platinum Viking answers - With the best audio measuring intrument in my studio!!!! Now... think about my answer...

Bruce Swedien
Your Ears!!!!!!!!!!!
Old 8th September 2006
  #27
Gear nut
 
vandertone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
Joaquin My Friend...

I like your question - "How loud is "good" for your mixes and how do you measure it?"

Brucie The Platinum Viking answers - With the best audio measuring intrument in my studio!!!! Now... think about my answer...

Bruce Swedien
The ears?https://www.gearslutz.com/board/image.../winknudge.gif
Cheers,Mirko
Old 8th September 2006
  #28
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Kris's Avatar
Viking ears?
Old 8th September 2006
  #29
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Tripper's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
Joaquin My Friend...

I like your question - "How loud is "good" for your mixes and how do you measure it?"

Brucie The Platinum Viking answers - With the best audio measuring intrument in my studio!!!! Now... think about my answer...

Bruce Swedien
hi bruce.

your multiple platinum ears?

regards;

Trip
Old 8th September 2006
  #30
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joaquin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
Joaquin My Friend...

I like your question - "How loud is "good" for your mixes and how do you measure it?"

Brucie The Platinum Viking answers - With the best audio measuring intrument in my studio!!!! Now... think about my answer...

Bruce Swedien
Hi Mr. Swedien. Thanks for your answer.
I believe that you are refering to your EARS!...but, I'm talking about Fletcher Munson, monitoring at a certain SPL, and the non-linearity of our hearing. Also about the loudness race in today's Industry, and the inherited Hard/fast limiting involved in the process...
Do not know if you are familiar with Mr. Bob Katz and his "K" System? he establishes a relationship between dbfsRms and a fixed monitoring loudness in SPL, so the engineer is able to "compare", with his Ears, different mixes...
Anyway, Thank you very much........................Joaquin Berrios.
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