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How do you supress the harshness of a synth track?
Old 18th August 2019
Here for the gear

How do you supress the harshness of a synth track?


Learner here!
I am currently mixing a song on reaper that has 2 stereo synth tracks.
there is a whistly noise ( super piercy hiss ) and some harshness to some of the notes that I would like to get rid of as it is very ear fatiguing.
Lastly a couple of notes really standout volume wise and I can't seem to find good compressor settings for 70's prog kind of synth sound. Is automation the appropriate solution there?

What steps should I follow in order to achieve that?

Many thanks in advance
Old 18th August 2019
Gear Nut
To fix a small number of notes in a performance I would try to automate the trim level or ride the faders. That is, doing a manual compressor that acts just as you want.

In the same spirit, I would process the offenting bit of audio with eq leaving the rest of the track as is.
Old 18th August 2019
Here for the gear

thanks for the answer.

In a more technical way how would you get rid of a hiss that sound a lot like a super high pitched tea pot?

many thanks
Old 18th August 2019
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FreshProduce's Avatar
Try using a HPF (high pass filter)
If you EQ it, use a narrow Q and sweep the spectrum while boosting. Once you've located the offending frequency, switch to subtractive EQ to remove just enough to please your ears. Ultimately, no one will be able to provide you with spot on advice until you post a sample!
Old 18th August 2019
Here for the gear

thanks a lot, i'll try that
Old 18th August 2019
Gear Guru

In a more technical way how would you get rid of a hiss that sound a lot like a super high pitched tea pot?
this type of sound resides in a very specific area of the spectrum and should be easy to dip out with an EQ.

you can use an EQ to dip out any frequencies that are harsh. Do a search on GS for the "search and destroy" technique of narrowing in on the correct frequencies to remove. The basic idea is to sweep a boost, it is usually easier to hear the results of a boost than to hear a cut. Then when you find the offending sound's frequency, start cutting there.

For a more subtle effect, can use a dynamic EQ or multi-band device to dip out certain frequencies only when they start to get too loud.

But really, signal processing solutions for a synth are band-aids.

A synth is by definition a device that is creating a sound "from scratch". The actual programming capabilities of the synth are far more powerful than any EQ or compression that you can stick on after the fact. Learn how to program and edit your sounds. There is probably an oscillator responsible for producing that "tea pot" sound and if you can find it, you can lower it there - or even turn it off. Even before you learn how to program your own sounds, you can learn what offerings are available in the synth's presets. There may be a patch already in there that has more of what you like and less of what you don't like.

If you are recording a singer who has a particular quality in their voice you don't like, you may or may not be able to ask for another singer! If you are recording a synth that has a quality you don't like, you probably have a lot more leeway in asking for a different sound.

Lastly a couple of notes really standout volume wise and I can't seem to find good compressor settings
I hardly ever need a compressor on a synth. If a couple of notes really 'stand out', you can address that with volume automation from the channel, or possibly even better - you could edit the MIDI velocity of the notes - assuming you recorded the MIDI.
Old 19th August 2019
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Are they audio tracks or virtual instrument tracks?
Old 20th August 2019
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joeq >thank you I'll try that today

jammiedodger666 > they're audio tracks recorded direct from my an1x yamaha
Old 20th August 2019
@ sirabhorn Install a spectrum analyzer, for example the free Voxengo SPAN. Put it in 4096 samples FFT or higher and anything that sticks out should be visible.
Old 20th August 2019
Lives for gear

Harsh frequencies can usually be found between 3-5kHz, sometimes a bit lower or a bit higher. Guitars can sometimes be a bit cutty at 2.5k. Maag makes a Magnum K compressor with a feature that specifically targets that frequency area as well as offer the usual compression features. I’m not saying go out and grab it, but I am saying that features like this in processors like this because it’s a common enough problem to want to address.

The simplest approach is to kill it with a bit off eq reduction the problem area. Just enough to tame it. But if the problem is intermittent, then you’d want to look at a dynamic eq, or maybe a deesser instead. Though dynamic was give you more control over the specific set of frequencies you wish to target, Waves constantly have $30 sales, so you could always take a look at their F6 if you feel a dynamic eq is what you need. Or you could try multiband compression and set it’s mid band to target those specific frequencies and set it to compress if they get a bit to overexcitable.

A word of warning though, dynamic eqs and multiband compressors can also make a real mess of things if you don’t know what you’re doing. So tread cautiously. Perhaps check out the presets for something relevant and adjust the “threshold” to taste.

You can generally tell where the harsh frequencies are by looking at an eq analyser and see which frequencies around the 3-5k, seem to be jutting out the most in comparison with the surrounding frequencies.
Old 3rd September 2019
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i was away sorry for leaving this thread to die. Thanks so much for all the answers. It is all extremely helpful to me!
Old 4th September 2019
Gear Maniac
kite's Avatar
I always try first a de-esser.
Old 8th September 2019
Lives for gear

Dessers and your basic eq are definitely easier to use than multiband compression and dynamic eqs. It’s definitely worthwhile starting there. Then there is tools like the Brainworx bx_refinement.
Old 9th September 2019
Gear Nut

A gentle low pass filter could be a simple solution to this, especially if you are looking for a 70s prog sound. This would typically be recorded to tape and many of these machines would roll off high end before 20khz. Using low pass filters can essentially serve to emulate this to some degree. Digital seems to bring out these higher frequencies more than analogue gear which can make the highs more harsh so addressing this can be helpful. Sometimes I may begin to roll off the highs of my drums as low as 10khz if that is what works in the mix (although I'm making primarily house and techno).

I would also second other opinions offered here. I wouldn't be looking at a compressor to fix this. A dynamic eq could be useful. TDR Nova is a good free plugin if you need one. A deesser could also get you what you want and are usually included in most DAWs. But before any of this I would be addressing the sound design and tweaking the synth first.
Old 4 weeks ago
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Thanks again and sorry for the slow answer,

I fixed it by low passing at about 7k it really made the sound more musical overall.

I will remember that when programming the sounds from now.

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