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What's up with the air?? Studio Monitors
Old 6th March 2007
  #1
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
What's up with the air??

Hi all

I'm new here in gearslutz. I'm a titled sound engineer but yet a young padawan of the sound. I work in a small studio in my small city somewhere in europe. I've been having one big doubt since I almost started to work and this seems to be the perfect place to solve it

The question is this: Is everyone in every studio around the world adding "air" to the things? I did the mixes from the book "Production and mixing with Waves" and I found myself adding air to some things in the mix, to make it sound more natural and interesting.
What's going on with the "air"? Could it be the recording room (probably, eh)? Or the gear in the studio: U87 (almost everything is recorded thru it, I don't think it to be the problem because obvious reasons), Avalon pre mic amp (same, i dont think it to be the problem) or creamware A16 AD converter (maybe, uh?). Or it's just that everyone out there is adding "not real air" with eq?
I can't afford an expensive AD converter or record in a better room to test so I will appreciate your comments and experience.

many thanks for reading
Old 6th March 2007
  #2


Maybe it's your tweeters - or your signals are too clean and you aren't generating distortion in the upper harmonics.

It wouldn't bother me.....

You may try a BBE Sonic maximizer or an Aural Exciter. These can add some artificial air sometimes.




-tINY

Old 6th March 2007
  #3
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Thread Starter
I have used the BBE and it does a great job but my question is: is everybody adding 14-20k with eq (or exciters) usually?? or... the problem is my gear or my room, so I have to add 14-20k with eq to match the comercial sound?? what do you think??
Old 7th March 2007
  #4


Are you using dynamic mics?



-tINY

Old 7th March 2007
  #5
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
no, almost always we use a neuman u87 or neuman tlms
Old 7th March 2007
  #6
Well... there's all kinds of issues here... not the least of which is having the same sonic footprint on many of your tracks from (apprarently) using the same mic and pre on many/most tracks.

With strongly characterful mics and preamps, it's sort of like having the same EQ profile on every track... you start getting an overall stamp on the sound...

It's sort of like garlic.

The proper use of it can make or break good cooking.

But if you put it in everything...

_______________

One thing I'd be aware / beware of is automatically adding "air" (bumping freqs over 10 or 12K) to everything -- particularly with "harmonic enhancers" that play tricks with harmonic resonances... sometimes it can really make something come alive but if it's overdone it can become problematic, even quite fatiguing.
Old 7th March 2007
  #7
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Capstan Cappy's Avatar
 

what do you mean by having air??,

like instruments having the room to breath without having the whole stereo image sitting in one place? or too close together?, air to me is provided by the equipment you use, meaning ,for instance most digital recording mediums dont have "air" they lack 3D depth sound wich provides "air" (in most cases), its all dependend on the equipment you use to capture what goes in the signal chain, the U87 is not to blaim , its the rest of the signal chain you might wonder about, pre-amp, direct out or summing buss = output, recording medium
Old 7th March 2007
  #8


Hoo boy. How could I have missed that you were using DIGITAL audio?!?

OF COURSE, you can't get an acceptable signal with digital audio. Everyone knows that.

There's no "3D" component to digital audio -- it's all just a string of ones and zeroes -- so OF COURSE there's no dimensionality to it. And without 3 dimensions, how can you have air?


I feel like Walters.

Old 7th March 2007
  #9
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
Ok, many thanks for the answers,

I call air to the frecs over 12k because I have studied them with that name.
I'm recording to a hard drive, 48khz-24bits with creamware A16 AD converters.


I usually add high frecs (12-20k) to batteries, voices or guitars to match my reference pop or rock records (commercial ones).
The mic preamp is an Avalon VT737 so you say... the problem is the recording in a digital medium?
I don't understand what you said about digital recordings. If it's all just a string of ones and zeroes, you cant hear the air? cant you hear 12-20k range in a CD? I don't understand or we are not talking about the same thing.
I think it's my fault, when I say "air" I refer to the 12-20k frecs range, I'm sorry if it was confusing.

Anyway I don't understand why in a digital recording medium you cannot hear the dimensionality of the room. 1 & 0 is information, like the polarity of a tape. Can you here the dimensionality in a tape or a vinyl?
Old 7th March 2007
  #10
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Capstan Cappy's Avatar
 

ow boy, this can easily turn into a "we'll all put in a piece of the puzzel of digital recording and its side affects , likes and dislikes discussion"...

doesnt matter m8, all you need to do is record with an all analogue signal chain and u'll have your awnser, air is not provided by those upper requencies only but i do know what you mean you probably mean transparancy in the upper region, its all about harmonics imo wich is very difficult to capture with a digital recording medium and they dont only excist from 12k and upwards, also didgital recording is serial information while a tape machine is parallel information, no delay whatsoever wich is realy important if you talk about details..i wish it was that easy by adding 12k a nd more but its not , the converters are most to blaim since better converters usually provide more details in sound recorded, since "air" is all about details like harmonics you will probably wanna upgrade those , unfortunatly the best ones are realy expensive
Old 8th March 2007
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyrow View Post
Ok, many thanks for the answers,

I call air to the frecs over 12k because I have studied them with that name.
I'm recording to a hard drive, 48khz-24bits with creamware A16 AD converters.


I usually add high frecs (12-20k) to batteries, voices or guitars to match my reference pop or rock records (commercial ones).
The mic preamp is an Avalon VT737 so you say... the problem is the recording in a digital medium?
I don't understand what you said about digital recordings. If it's all just a string of ones and zeroes, you cant hear the air? cant you hear 12-20k range in a CD? I don't understand or we are not talking about the same thing.
I think it's my fault, when I say "air" I refer to the 12-20k frecs range, I'm sorry if it was confusing.

Anyway I don't understand why in a digital recording medium you cannot hear the dimensionality of the room. 1 & 0 is information, like the polarity of a tape. Can you here the dimensionality in a tape or a vinyl?
Sorry, Spyrow... I realize how difficult sarcasm and irony are for those who are not native English-speakers!

My comments were directed at our evidently tape loving pal above, Capstan Cappy, whose comments lacked, I thought, a certain grounding in the science of our work and/or precision of communication.

But I compounded the problem. My bad, as they say.


So... Cappy... maybe I just don't have the perspective you do. I've only owned ten analog reel to reel decks -- not to mention literally scores of those cassette jobbies that were all the rage a while back -- doing my first overdub recording in 1962 and working for a number of years as a freelancer in commercial studios and later as proprietor of a 16 track project studio. So maybe I just have to gain a little broader perspective before I can see the problems with digital you seem to have zeroed in on.

With regard to your assertion that digital can't capture harmonics -- an amazing revelation! In 26 years of reading about digital audio theory, that stunning fact has escaped me -- as well as a lot of widely respected scientists -- NOT to mention escaping the ability of very sensitivie test equipment to measure that failure.

Fascinating.

You learn something new every day here at Gearslutz.

Old 8th March 2007
  #12
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Thread Starter
Ok, thanks to both....

capstan cappy: can't you hear that "air" or harmonics in the final CD? if you can hear them, this is a digital medium! and if you cant hear them, why to record them?

the blue: ill make an effort to catch that irony, im sorry but maybe capstan cappy is not that wrong and what I need is a better converter (creamware is about $800). One of the $2000-3000 like apogee or similar to fight my dull and without-live recordings.
Old 8th March 2007
  #13
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Ruudman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post


..OF COURSE, you can't get an acceptable signal with digital audio...


Keep trying, son.. you'll get there

ruudman
Old 8th March 2007
  #14
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woomanmoomin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyrow View Post
capstan cappy: can't you hear that "air" or harmonics in the final CD? if you can hear them, this is a digital medium! and if you cant hear them, why to record them?
I think Capstan means that the difficult part is to get the air frequencies into the digital recording medium in the first place. It may not be effective to try to boost the natural air frequencies in a recording with a little EQ unless you actually have some air frequency definition in the recording before you start boosting. If you have poor A/D converters between the source and the recording medium, or (to cut a long story short) if your recording chain just isn't that good, you will lose signal detail, and a lot of this will be high-frequency detail.

Add this to a process where you use the same midrange-heavy mic etc. again and again and you're probably not going to end up with anything like the scooped 'smile' EQ so many recording engineers and producers love, where the volume of the mids is reduced so the highs and lows can be heard a little better.
Old 8th March 2007
  #15
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Tom H's Avatar
 

1st, what's your monitoring chain? It could very well be that if your monitors sound a little on the bright side wich in combination with your converters leads to a situation where you are creating dark or dull mixes, because the highs don't sound pleasant...

I think it's definitely possible to create some air inside a digital medium, it's only crucial that you can exactly hear what you are doing.

2nd, i agree with the blue on the mic and pre thing, if you're recording everything through a u87 and a 737 there isn't going to be a lot of different juices in your mix. Allthough if the instruments itself are ballanced out this should be less a problem. But yeah try different mics if you aren't feeling it... (duh)

The eq on the avalon is certainly decent enough to boost the airy frequency's during the recording, this is your strongest weapon i think, experiment with it. Also cutting certain midlow freqs can create some air too!

3d, you can always send the mixes to a good mastering place with a nice GML eq.. see if they can achieve it for you heh

good luck..
Old 8th March 2007
  #16
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
Ok, this is the normal signal chain:

U87 mic -> avalon737 mic preamp -> creamware A16 AD -> 24bit/48khz hard disc recording -> creamware A16 DA -> Crown 200W amp -> yamaha ns10studio (or creamware A16 DA to Genelec 8050)

When I listen to commercial CD's in the same system (with NS10 or genelec, doenst mind) I hear more high frecs. Not several CD's but ALL the comercial CD's have more high frecs. Not several of the recordings in this studios are dull, ALL the recordings are dull. So there is a problem, and it has to be some basic.

I assume people in other studios around the world is not adding high frecuencies by default every time. Ok, so that's not the solution.

The problem could be a combination of problems. Maybe Creamware A16 is not enough good in high frecs, maybe U87 is not too bright sometimes, maybe the room is too dull, maybe I should add some high frecs with the 737 EQ...

I will try to save money for new converters and I will go amazon for 2-3 books about "recording studios acoustic design".

By the way, could you tell me a "for sure" more bright mic than the U87 to make a test? There is a lot of mics in the studio and I don't know them very well, maybe I should spend more time learning how each sounds.
Old 8th March 2007
  #17
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommylicious View Post
2nd, i agree with the blue on the mic and pre thing, if you're recording everything through a u87 and a 737 there isn't going to be a lot of different juices in your mix.
Uhm.. so maybe to record every thing with the same mic & preamp combination is a mistake, because everything gets the same coloration and character and sometimes should be preferible to use a cheaper mic-preamp to get diferent sounds... is that what you mean?
Old 8th March 2007
  #18
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deuc647's Avatar
 

I think it has to do a lot with mastering, its over looked a lot here. Im not a pro but i think converters have a good amount to do with it, on my delta 44. the headroom was low so it didnt leave me room to boost without gettin digital distortion, on the 24XR converters(great by the way) are more forgiving when adding EQ cuz of the heeadroom, im sure you can make great recording on any converter, it just gonna take a lil more work to achieve them. I boost a lil at 5k and 16 to add some "air" and compare mixes. Hope this helps
Old 8th March 2007
  #19
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Capstan Cappy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by woomanmoomin View Post
I think Capstan means that the difficult part is to get the air frequencies into the digital recording medium in the first place. It may not be effective to try to boost the natural air frequencies in a recording with a little EQ unless you actually have some air frequency definition in the recording before you start boosting. If you have poor A/D converters between the source and the recording medium, or (to cut a long story short) if your recording chain just isn't that good, you will lose signal detail, and a lot of this will be high-frequency detail.
to cut the story short yeah thats about it but its my opinion , and there are somanny of those
Old 8th March 2007
  #20
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woomanmoomin's Avatar
 

About the mic character thing, Spyrow... You don't need to use any cheap equipment instead or as well as the U87 etc., but the U87 is known for the emphasis it gives to a certain area of the midrange frequencies. Well, because I don't know what the actual figure would be, let's say it adds 2dB volume in that area. If I understand this right, then if you record one track with it, you boost that area by 2dB in relation to the actual sound of the vocalist or instrument. That means you've already almost doubled the output in that area in relation to the real sound that went into the microphone. Record another track with it and you add another 2dB in that area, and so on, and so on. Pretty soon the output in that frequency range could be several times more than is likely to sound nice! The U87 is especially bad for this, because it is designed to boost midrange frequencies our ears are particularly sensitive to anyway... some of the frequencies that make rock music sound hard. Just a little too much output in this area can be really uncomfortable to listen to.

In your situation, I would try to record the music using a range of different microphones (and pre-amps, if possible) that didn't all emphasise the same frequencies. At the moment you are laying one midrange frequency bump on top of another, on top of another, on top of another...

What you are making right now is like a volcano that gradually gets bigger and bigger, steeper and steeper, layer by layer, each time there is an eruption and the lava from it falls on top of all the old, hard lava that's come before... (http://www.tki.org.nz/r/science/curr...h/volcano1.gif)
Old 8th March 2007
  #21
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Tom H's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyrow View Post
Uhm.. so maybe to record every thing with the same mic & preamp combination is a mistake, because everything gets the same coloration and character and sometimes should be preferible to use a cheaper mic-preamp to get diferent sounds... is that what you mean?
Not exactly, but i would certainly not record every source with the same mic. A different preamp could help but is not really essential here i think.

I don't think it's the monitoring either, seems fine.

When your saying your mixes sound different than the ones from cd it's probably a mastering isue. The masteringengineer can probably add a lot of the air you want.

But if you think your mixes lack air to start with you could always experiment with the eq on that avalon of yours and see if you can boost a little while recording.
Old 8th March 2007
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruudman View Post
Keep trying, son.. you'll get there

ruudman
Oh, that was good.
Old 8th March 2007
  #23
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by woomanmoomin View Post
About the mic character thing, Spyrow... You don't need to use any cheap equipment instead or as well as the U87 etc., but the U87 is known for the emphasis it gives to a certain area of the midrange frequencies. Well, because I don't know what the actual figure would be, let's say it adds 2dB volume in that area. If I understand this right, then if you record one track with it, you boost that area by 2dB in relation to the actual sound of the vocalist or instrument. That means you've already almost doubled the output in that area in relation to the real sound that went into the microphone. Record another track with it and you add another 2dB in that area, and so on, and so on. Pretty soon the output in that frequency range could be several times more than is likely to sound nice! The U87 is especially bad for this, because it is designed to boost midrange frequencies our ears are particularly sensitive to anyway... some of the frequencies that make rock music sound hard. Just a little too much output in this area can be really uncomfortable to listen to.

In your situation, I would try to record the music using a range of different microphones (and pre-amps, if possible) that didn't all emphasise the same frequencies. At the moment you are laying one midrange frequency bump on top of another, on top of another, on top of another...

What you are making right now is like a volcano that gradually gets bigger and bigger, steeper and steeper, layer by layer, each time there is an eruption and the lava from it falls on top of all the old, hard lava that's come before... (http://www.tki.org.nz/r/science/curr...h/volcano1.gif)


Very interesting. You are right, i always tend to EQ in a 'smiley' way and that's probably to counter the midrange boost of the U87. I haven't thought the reason. Thanks.


So, while recording or mixing is not a rule to add "air", but mastering engineers use to do it by default? That could be another part of the combinated solution (better converters, more bright room...)
Here the mastering is just another stage in the mix. There are no mastering engineers in the zone and my boss is mastering his own mixes using just a multiband compresor and a limiter.

Thanks everyone for the answers. I'm going to learn a lot here. Internet is great
Old 8th March 2007
  #24
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Windtaken's Avatar
 

...the u87 rolls of the highs...

check the frequency response curve

try changing it to omni and see if it adds the type of air you're referring to
Old 8th March 2007
  #25
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Thread Starter
I have found this:
http://www.neumann.com/zoom.php?zoom...am&w=878&h=278

very interesting!
with the cardioid diagram the U87 has a boost at 9k and a cut from 14-20k! And it's very very directive in that range, it doesn't take any of the room reflections in those frecs, look at the spacial diagram
Old 8th March 2007
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyrow View Post
Uhm.. so maybe to record every thing with the same mic & preamp combination is a mistake, because everything gets the same coloration and character and sometimes should be preferible to use a cheaper mic-preamp to get diferent sounds... is that what you mean?
Yeah... that's what I was getting at.

Mind you I'd LOVE to have a few nice Neumanns.

But some very desirable mics and pres (and board strips for that matter) have a fairly characterful sound and sometimes too much of a good thing can be... well... too much.


That said -- everyone else has some good points (including the Cap'n! heh ) and there may not be one single answer, here.


I was just out throwing bombs and being my usual charming self, yesterday. heh
Old 8th March 2007
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruudman View Post
Keep trying, son.. you'll get there

ruudman
I think the problem is that I got there... and kept on going.


heh
Old 8th March 2007
  #28
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Yeah... that's what I was getting at.

Mind you I'd LOVE to have a few nice Neumanns.

But some very desirable mics and pres (and board strips for that matter) have a fairly characterful sound and sometimes too much of a good thing can be... well... too much.


That said -- everyone else has some good points (including the Cap'n! heh ) and there may not be one single answer, here.


I was just out throwing bombs and being my usual charming self, yesterday. heh

If you see the link I posted before, and as WindTaken said... that Neumann has a cut in 14-20k. Like you said, is not good to record with the same mic, everything gets the same coloration and the whole mix gets that coloration.

I can finally be sure that is a combination of problems, I'm still thinking the room is too dull (because I can hear it inside) but Neumann is part of the problem too. Also, another part is that I'm comparing mixes with mastered songs and mastering engineers use to add high frecs.
Is that last right? Any mastering engineer here in the low theory forum?

Now I'm not sure about that creamware converters, maybe they are good enough but I can't test with better ones :( (yet)
Old 8th March 2007
  #29
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Windtaken's Avatar
 

going from low, to mid, to high end converters, i wouldn't suggest changing yours just yet. Air should still be very present and audible with low end converters. The U87 makes the air sweeter if you have a preamp that will create pleasant harmonic distortion in the higher frequencies.

The Pacifica (that a lot of people are raving about) is one of those preamps that does that. You might enjoy it.

You can find some clips of the U87 -> pacifica on here somewhere. If you can't, ask me again and I'll try to find an old demo I did for someone using the U87, pacifica and low end converters.
Old 8th March 2007
  #30
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Windtaken's Avatar
 

actually, I take that back...I found the file in an old e-mail and the converters make the high end sound like ass, lol (focusrite saffire). It's like blurry vision...
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