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mixing backing tracks & compression
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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vashuba's Avatar
 

mixing backing tracks & compression

So i'm re-doing my backing tracks.
We are a 2 piece rock band Live Guitar, vocals and drums. Bass/ synth / doubles through the tracks.

My question is regarding compressing the tracks. I don't plan on compressing the whole mix on the tracks, maybe just a limiter to catch peaks. I read you don't want to compress the bass too much. in contrast to mixing an album you can mash it to stay in its space. should i just keep the processing minimal to give the live feel? I want to keep a consistency between the different songs since some are more produced than some of the others.

as of now, its just a mono mix to the PA and click to the drummer.

cheers
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

If it’s a bass guitar then you can safely compress it about 4-6 db on peaks at about 4:1.
Attack 5-10ms and release around 100ms should get you in the ball park. An 1176 style comp will work well.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenNeedle View Post
If it’s a bass guitar then you can safely compress it about 4-6 db on peaks at about 4:1.
Attack 5-10ms and release around 100ms should get you in the ball park. An 1176 style comp will work well.
Wow, you know this without hearing the song and the instrument in question....how its played and how it fits into the rest of the song etc? How, pray tell?

Is this a 'formula' you use on every bass in every song, or is there something else that I don't get?

OP, there are too many variables for anybody to give a specific and detailed response especially when we haven't heard the song and how the instrument is played. There is no generic way to process bass in general or more specifically rock bass...is the song a ballad or is it aggressive?

I suggest you experiment with the processing of the bass in the mix, if you're not sure, you may record several mixes and see what works/sounds/feels best during a rehearsal with your band mate. This is a much better solution than taking arbitrary instructions from people who have never heard your music and do not know the feel and sound you're after. This will also be a good learning experience for you too, compression like all other types of processing is not used like paint by numbers.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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This is a very timely topic for me: for the first time in 50 years I have decided to work solo with B U tracks this season and the learning curve was not nearly as difficult as I was expecting. I prepped 8 selections I had previously performed either solo or with some of my studio pickers and they suggested my use of recorded tracks. Sam is absolutely right, every selection needs to be carefully shaped to highlight the live segment of the performance. Failure to do so will rapidly morph into a pantomime performance that most ticket buying folks will not be willing to sustain.
The ability to provide ancillary tracks for 30% of my solo show gives me a new opportunity to work with drum loops and my CP5 piano. I also talk about and provide exemplary samples of various seasoned session players I have worked with for years. I am looking forward to working some venues that have video screens capable of simultaneously displaying visual evidence of their work as I perform. At this point I am trying to wrap my head around the most efficient protocol to start and stop the tracks.
Mixing these tracks was a trial and error process to fit the task: other than that, it was post production business as usual. Like Sam said "Each song will need custom attention".
Hugh,
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
Wow, you know this without hearing the song and the instrument in question....how its played and how it fits into the rest of the song etc? How, pray tell?

Is this a 'formula' you use on every bass in every song, or is there something else that I don't get?

OP, there are too many variables for anybody to give a specific and detailed response especially when we haven't heard the song and how the instrument is played. There is no generic way to process bass in general or more specifically rock bass...is the song a ballad or is it aggressive?

I suggest you experiment with the processing of the bass in the mix, if you're not sure, you may record several mixes and see what works/sounds/feels best during a rehearsal with your band mate. This is a much better solution than taking arbitrary instructions from people who have never heard your music and do not know the feel and sound you're after. This will also be a good learning experience for you too, compression like all other types of processing is not used like paint by numbers.
Oh Sam.
I can’t think of a time when bass in a live situation didn’t work better with what i described.
When i was writing that i actually could already hear your response to it.
People post things like the OP did here because they want solutions now, not to be told ‘oh you clearly are going to have to spend a decade learning how do this and you are therefore denied any workable solution as it me be less than perfect in our professional eyes’.
As you ride away in disgust on your large white horse....
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Is that a horse?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenNeedle View Post
Oh Sam.
I can’t think of a time when bass in a live situation didn’t work better with what i described.
It stands to reason then that you have a recipe for all the other instruments too...must be great to know you can just phone in your mixes.

Quote:
When i was writing that i actually could already hear your response to it.
This tells me you knew your suggestion was BS all along...

Quote:
People post things like the OP did here because they want solutions now, not to be told ‘oh you clearly are going to have to spend a decade learning how do this and you are therefore denied any workable solution as it me be less than perfect in our professional eyes’.
As you ride away in disgust on your large white horse....
Well, yes...he could spend half a day doing what I suggested and end up with a solution he'll like, and learn something too, or he can take your magic pill and hope for the best. Just because someone is looking for a quick fix doesnt mean any foolishness will do.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
This is a very timely topic for me: for the first time in 50 years I have decided to work solo with B U tracks this season...
I'm not sure why, but this surprises me a little. Seems inconsistent with your general philosophy, I guess.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
It stands to reason then that you have a recipe for all the other instruments too...must be great to know you can just phone in your mixes.


This tells me you knew your suggestion was BS all along...


Well, yes...he could spend half a day doing what I suggested and end up with a solution he'll like, and learn something too, or he can take your magic pill and hope for the best. Just because someone is looking for a quick fix doesnt mean any foolishness will do.
Yes sheer foolishness. I am ashamed. The lives that are ruined.... god help us
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
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Brent, I owe you an honest answer: For more than 35 years I was locked up in a Bluegrass world. For the most part it was by choice however when substantial early success comes your way the path of least resistance is to go to the next deal waiting. In my case it was Bluegrass production, sound reinforcement and band participation. Unfortunately my personal proclivities and vocal fit is not Bluegrass and over the past 15 years I have moved on to a much more eclectic Americana based work flow. In the past 5 years I have developed a solo guitar/vocal show that features some of my favorite tunes composed between 1920 to 1965.
The only certainty with any band is change, and in my case, gig date availability of my favorite session players has become a big problem. So the primary reason I am using tracks that interest me, for at least 30% of my live selections, is to feature fabulous arrangements with high grade session players that are usually not available for my gigs. The second but even more important reason is boredom: I have come to realize the fact that if I become bored with two 45 min sets of just me the audience probably could use a little variety as well. Bottom line is it's a lot more fun.
I maintain the same, if not greater, creative sonic standards when recording and mixing my B U tracks. The most important change is the risk/reward challenge is wide open since I have to answer only to the audience I work for. Drum loops and a piano addition to the rhythm section are not now and probably never will be welcome in the Bluegrass world.
Very old dogs can learn new tricks: it just takes a bit longer for us to get there!
Hugh
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Appreciate you taking the time for the thoughtful reply, Hugh.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
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vashuba, I've had more success using EQ and reverb when trying to make Backing tracks fit in with live stuff. If you are making the Backing tracks yourself I would set things up and tweak things to get the right sound. For backing tracks EQ and reverb are more important for me to create enough sonic space for the live stuff. If the track is too full sonically there is no way compression will make room. And if you try and EQ the backing track as a whole you are still missing out on creating space, you're really just changing the tone.

If possible, Print the EQ to the track and save adding reverb for the venue.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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vashuba's Avatar
 

down the line-
good idea on the reverb, makes sense, ill give it a try!
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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grannis's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by vashuba View Post
So i'm re-doing my backing tracks.
We are a 2 piece rock band Live Guitar, vocals and drums. Bass/ synth / doubles through the tracks.

My question is regarding compressing the tracks. I don't plan on compressing the whole mix on the tracks, maybe just a limiter to catch peaks. I read you don't want to compress the bass too much. in contrast to mixing an album you can mash it to stay in its space. should i just keep the processing minimal to give the live feel? I want to keep a consistency between the different songs since some are more produced than some of the others.

as of now, its just a mono mix to the PA and click to the drummer.

cheers
Having played in "full bands" for years, I have recently put together a duo (guitar/vox) with backing tracks, so I went to see a lot of acts doing something similar. In general, my impression was that the backing tracks with less production and processing are much more exciting and "live".

So I adopted the approach of recording backing tracks with drums and bass on separate tracks with no "studio" effects at all (maybe a compressor pedal for bass, as any live player might use), and mixing the results at the venue through the PA.

I didn't get the levelling 100% right first time, but tweaked the tracks after the first gig.

a more accomplished recording engineer may be able to something that works in all venues, but if you are like me, the ability to mix on the night is invaluable. After our second gig (not the first!) we started to get quite a few compliments on our live sound.

btw our first gig was a late booking - if I had had more time (with the benefit of hindsight) I would have been able to work on the levelling after a dry run, not a real gig!
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