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Q for Paul Frindle Dynamics Plugins
Old 16th October 2007
  #211
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HF limiting in mastering

Hi Paul,

Thought I'd resurrect this old thread with a Q for you on how to best use your Dynamics plug-in for HF control in mastering.

The current level practices being what they are, even fairly conservative minded ME's, in regards to loudness, are concerned about not "disappearing on the iPod". You sometimes have to bring up the level of a mix quite a bit further than you'd ideally want. This can cause a mix that came in well balanced to become scewed, with HF becoming harsh and unbalanced and borderline vocals increasingly essy.

Experienced ME's tend to use their hardware boxes to fix this and get that professional air on loud masters, that smooth and "expensive" sheen with no harshness. Some use the Maselec HF limiter/De-esser, some use the Weiss de-esser and some use other things. Our friend Bob Ludwig uses the Weiss and calls it his most important piece of gear. A bunch of people rave about the Maselec, a one knob affair (threshold) that limits everythig above 2K and has internally set time constants that are reportedly just perfect for this.

I have been trying to get good results with your Dynamics plug-in (VST), but so far have not quite gotten what I'm looking for.

Have you had any luck using the Dynamics for HF control on loud stuff yourself? Any advice on how to set it up? How to get the side chain and the time constants just right. Do you have any presets available to get in the ballpark?

Cheers

Jørn
Old 16th October 2007
  #212
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bonne View Post
Hi Paul,

Thought I'd resurrect this old thread with a Q for you on how to best use your Dynamics plug-in for HF control in mastering.

The current level practices being what they are, even fairly conservative minded ME's, in regards to loudness, are concerned about not "disappearing on the iPod". You sometimes have to bring up the level of a mix quite a bit further than you'd ideally want. This can cause a mix that came in well balanced to become scewed, with HF becoming harsh and unbalanced and borderline vocals increasingly essy.

Experienced ME's tend to use their hardware boxes to fix this and get that professional air on loud masters, that smooth and "expensive" sheen with no harshness. Some use the Maselec HF limiter/De-esser, some use the Weiss de-esser and some use other things. Our friend Bob Ludwig uses the Weiss and calls it his most important piece og gear. A bunch of people rave about the Maselec, a one knob affair (threshold) that limits everythig above 2K and has internally set time constants that are reportedly just perfect for this.

I have been trying to get good results with your Dynamics plug-in (VST), but so far have not quite gotten what I'm looking for.

Have you had any luck using the Dynamics for HF control on loud stuff yourself? Any advice on how to set it up? How to get the side chain and the time constants just right. Do you have any presets available to get in the ballpark?

Cheers

Jørn
Ok - is this the notion of correcting harshness due to over compression and distortion using a de-esser to round off the excess HF harshness?.

I haven't done too much of this kind of work myself and I am not necessarily au fait with the subtlety of all this from a mastering perspective, but my strong impression is that you need some kind of band specific de-esser rather than a conventional wide band unit? The idea being that you actually only want hit the HF where the problems lie and retain everything else.

Ok - I have done some very decent de-essing with the Oxford limiter by using the side chain EQ to boost the level of the HF, then setting the threshold to hit only the ranges that are boosted. The only issue with this in your case is that when the gain gets reduced by the compression it will happen at all freqs - so whilst this is fine on vocals and discrete tracks it is not ideal for a complete composite mix. I would say that because the Oxford is a wide band comp, it may not be the best choice for this kind of thing?

Im sorry if this isn't very helpful :-(
Old 17th October 2007
  #213
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
Ok - is this the notion of correcting harshness due to over compression and distortion using a de-esser to round off the excess HF harshness?
Yes. When increasing level on a mix that came in on the quiet side to approach today's level standards - to an average RMS for the track of around -12/-13, say, I find that the HMF and HF tend to get more harsh and brittle as the level goes up (-probably partly to do with the way our hearing works). I've heard from seasoned MEs that they use hardware boxes as mentioned above to remedy this.

I'm looking for a way to get similar results with software, if possible.

Any suggestions, anyone?
Old 19th October 2007
  #214
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonne View Post
Yes. When increasing level on a mix that came in on the quiet side to approach today's level standards - to an average RMS for the track of around -12/-13, say, I find that the HMF and HF tend to get more harsh and brittle as the level goes up (-probably partly to do with the way our hearing works). I've heard from seasoned MEs that they use hardware boxes as mentioned above to remedy this.

I'm looking for a way to get similar results with software, if possible.

Any suggestions, anyone?
Yes - but if all you are doing is raising the levels it should have no more effect than simply increasing the volume of your playback system. What increases the harshness is more compression if you are using a buss compressor/limiter. The reasons for this are increased distortion making more MF and HMF energy, short term overshoots that are remodeling the transients (possibly causing intersample peak errors) - and increasing the prominence of low level events that are normally not so intrusive.
Old 20th October 2007
  #215
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
What increases the harshness is more compression if you are using a buss compressor/limiter. The reasons for this are increased distortion making more MF and HMF energy, short term overshoots that are remodeling the transients (possibly causing intersample peak errors) - and increasing the prominence of low level events that are normally not so intrusive.
Thanks for your reply, Paul.

Yes, to get an average RMS for a track of, say, -12dB I will use a mixture of moderate compression, limiting and harmonic distortion (Oxford Limiter) with several processors in line to spread out the work and with each processor only contributing a little GR. Last in my chain is the Limiter taking care of any intersample peak errors.

Here's a quote from a ME who uses the Weiss de-esser to get the high frequencies tamed:

The other thing is to understand how the human ear works. As the volume goes up our ability to hear in the mid and high range increases exponentially. So what might have sounded right at the mix stage now sounds unbalanced post mastering.

... because if a mix comes in sounding great and the only thing we have to do is bring up the level then it's not as easy as just putting a couple limiters in line or clipping the converters. You still change the balance of the mix because of how the ear preceives this information now.

Get a Weiss DS1 MKII and you'll be able to get that high end the way you want. After you've used it a few YEARS and train you EARS to what good high end sounds like it just becomes a matter of twiddling the knobs to achieve great results!
Old 24th October 2014
  #216
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I strongly agree with Paul on downsampling. In addition to the science available on the subject of high sample rates, downsampling causes discernible loss of quality that outweighs any perceived benefit of working at higher rates. It may be negligible to casual listeners, but it is noticeable to me. Last I read, the iZotope Advanced algorithm is still the best one around; and in my own A/B/C/D (44.1, 48, 88.2, 96) tests, songs created in the target frequency were superior to those created and higher rates and later downsampled using that algorithm. Just for kicks, I tested my DAW's built-in algorithm, and it was pathetic by comparison. In my experiment, I used a software synthesizer playing a simple monophonic sequence for the A/B/C/D test so that I would be hearing the same exact source material generated at each native sample rate before downsampling. Note that working at 88.2 because it is twice the rate of 44.1 is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. You still experience the same detractions from downsampling.

When I receive completed mixes at 48k or higher for mastering, I convert the track before I master. I conducted a thorough A/B test where I converted before mastering versus converting after mastering. It was no contest. Convert before. Of course my preference would be to get the mix created at 44.1 in the first place. I tell my clients that, if the mix was done higher than 44.1, leave any conversions to me, no matter what the original mix rate is. At least I know I'll be using the best algorithm available. Obviously, this assumes the primary target platform is 44.1k/16bit. If the target platform is for a DVD soundtrack (with no plans for an audio-only release), then I recommend working all the way through the production process at 48k. The moral of the story is to work at whatever your most important target rate is, from start to finish.

As a side note, I always want 24-bit mixes if possible.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Frindle View Post
Glad to hear I have helped in some way :-)

Well I would avoid downsampling personally. It's true that they are getting better, but they can never be perfect.

Also a downsampler after your final processing treatment could cause some unwanted effects - especially if you are comp/limiting.

I can't vouch for other processing plug-ins, but if I were using the ones I designed I would know there was no significant advantage in running at higher rates anyway.

The philosophical point worth making is that your result in the format you intend is all that matters - that is the only product. If it's good at 44.1K there is no justification for running at higher rates - any more than a work of art might be considered 'better' if the artist had used different canvas.
Old 25th October 2014
  #217
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I also agree with 'alienimplant' findings.

In testing this over the years, as new SR conversion comes out, we come to the same conclusion ... unfortunately I suppose.

So I too work at the destination sample rate.

interesting topic .... thanks.
Old 8th November 2016
  #218
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJHollins View Post
I also agree with 'alienimplant' findings.

In testing this over the years, as new SR conversion comes out, we come to the same conclusion ... unfortunately I suppose.

So I too work at the destination sample rate.

interesting topic .... thanks.
Thank you, RJ. For posterity's sake, I'm reporting that my account has changed from alienimplant to lodestone.audio
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