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What makes a recording sound professional
Old 22nd March 2018
  #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dights View Post
(1) The skill and experience of the writers, musicians, and producers.

Don't be surprised if your latest and greatest bedroom production doesn't sound as good as something written, performed, and produced by some really talented people with decades of experience at the top level.

(2) The skill and experience of the engineers.

Don't be surprised if your latest and greatest bedroom production doesn't sound as good as something recorded, mixed, and mastered by some really talented people with decades of experience at the top level.

I think amongst the two biggest lemons that have been sold in the modern music culture are that anyone can do it, and that you can achieve it straight away.

It takes an inherent talent because it's an art form, and even then it usually takes years of practical experience to achieve something truly remarkable.
Basically it takes a little while to be able to SEE what bits are of importance WHEN in the process. Any fool can learn separate techniques from youtube now til the cows come home, but not necessarily evaluate what they are hearing and make good decisions at the right moments. Innit.
Old 22nd March 2018
  #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Basically it takes a little while to be able to SEE what bits are of importance WHEN in the process. Any fool can learn separate techniques from youtube now til the cows come home, but not necessarily evaluate what they are hearing and make good decisions at the right moments. Innit.
Yeah, and that fallacy is being sold to people by the bucket load... buy this piece of gear, pay for this video, sign up to this course, and you'll sound like a pro.

Apart from the practical experience required, I think people forget that you also have to have the talent to begin with; not everyone can be a good carpenter, or accountant, or painter, or mechanic, etc.

I've had the privilege of being in studios with some amazingly talented people, and I knew in my heart that I would never be able to do certain things that way.

I'm not saying you can't achieve what you want; through experience you learn where your talents lie.
Old 23rd March 2018
  #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Basically it takes a little while to be able to SEE what bits are of importance WHEN in the process. Any fool can learn separate techniques from youtube now til the cows come home, but not necessarily evaluate what they are hearing and make good decisions at the right moments. Innit.
Yeah. That.

And it's true across every field, music or otherwise.

I worked as a chef for years, and am laughing at the idea of someone watching a few cooking videos then expecting to get any kind of result on their own.

But that's what we're being told we can and should do, and it's just disheartening when you realise that it's going to be a slow and painful process without some decent mentoring/personal guidance, and seeing (tasting!) what people that know their stuff are doing to get it right.

And that's just the engineering part!
We also have to find the time to learn to play an instrument well, and compose!

And work a full time job to pay for it all - not enough hours in the day - literally.

I would jump at the chance to apprentice at a studio unpaid for 3 days a week, but I've always assumed (quite correctly I think), that I'd be seen as too old to get a look-in.

Enough lamentation though - there are plenty of examples of people that just came out of nowhere at an older age and had some success musically.
I'd be happy to just make it as an engineer to be honest - I love making music, but I'd rather be engineering someone else's for my bread and butter and indulging myself in my spare time.
Old 27th March 2018
  #64
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What makes a mix sound professional?

Years of experience. Ears which can actually "hear" what's going on in a mix. Understanding of signal treatment. Knowing the industry and the styles of mixing that evolve for emerging music genres. And more cowbell
Old 27th March 2018
  #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manicearthling View Post
Things that helped me:

1. Understanding gain staging
2. Understanding the use of compression - when and how much - attack vs release in terms of maintaining transients, parallel compression when needed
3. Learning the EQ cheat sheet - giving each instrument its space > tonnes of info here on GS, e.g., broad boosts vs sharp cuts, subtractive eq, etc.....
4. Learning ducking to separate the bass from the kick
5. How to use reverb or delays - how much and when
6. Using Aux channels
7. Automating volumes, pan, eq, comp
8. Understanding the different flavors of different analog gears - reading it all here on GS and trying it out for yourself
9. Realizing the magic of analog gear (that's what ended up making my mixes better)
10. Using your ears and ****ing the rules every now and then and having fun all along!

btw - I learnt it all here on GS.
This stuff doesn.t make a pro mix man. Most of the stuff you mentioned is needed for damage control and used in the mixing stage.
The magic happens at recording.

A great sounding room (not a dead room), a good performance and an engineer with tracking skills. When you have that, one hardly needs to mix. Send it straight to the ME.
Good gear is a very obvious help offcourse.

Print out your statement above, store it...and read it again in a couple of years. You will see your own learningcurve.
Old 9th November 2018
  #66
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Thanks all for replying to this thread. Complete newb and found this info to be incredibly useful
Old 10th November 2018
  #67
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A hit
Old 12th November 2018
  #68
I used to have this fixation with the low end and the presence in the hunt for power, I kind of managed but... all regions are SO important and have found time ago the importance of the regular lows, low mids, and highs.

When adding fx just try to re create a convincing sound, and not to try to go "hey check out this fx". When I add reverb ITB, when on an insert I really like to not go over 7% on the wet/dry knob in general, it is way easy to get over wet. When I don't have the 480/960 thing I prefer to rely on delays, but very subtle. Headphone checks are very good for checking fx, but don't over do it in order to get it right since your mains are just that ... your mains!

Check your mix in mono not just to check phase coherence, which is so important instead try to have less fx when listened in mono since psycho acoustically the brain just don't like the same amount of fx in mono. So learn mid/side processing and how it works and try to come up with tricks to get mono working mixes.

Also, these days there are so many virtual instruments or people that just work with stereo tracks... be careful as these things tend to disappear in mono, so at times like these is better to discard one of the sides. Given the case you are not allowed to do so just narrow the panning by closing its stereo until you find a compromise when switching from stereo to mono.

As levels go, just be aware that volume alone doesn't get you any where. I like my +4 on analog to be -20 ITB and not exceeding -6dbfs peak except in rare case when I really dig the sound. Leave room or work to be done in mastering but just don't rely that mastering is going to fix stuff.

As the kick goes, don't over process it, instead do several versions to work all the regions needed as far as EQ goes, also dynamically is good to have parallel compressed or limited versions and then go to a sub master to give unity to the whole thing. Also don't just rely on subs for its power as this is present on higher stuff.

As the Bass goes, is very alike how you treat the kick, just different frequencies may be, so get them to work as a team, since chaining them well. They don't have to sound good when soloed.

Vocals, a good performance is important, and apart for the right amount of chest sound, the mid range has to be pretty, not just right ... it has to be pretty.. so a good EQ here is very important. and so on with compression, be careful and get it to sound natural. People tend to say that slow attack suits them better, but I tend to disagree as the best compressors for vocals have very very fast attacks times as their slowest settings. I really recommend to at least have a hardware compressor like an 1176 or alike.

We all here can say a lot of things, but as some one said here experience is the best teacher. Even seasoned producers or engineers can have a bad session, they just tend to be less ocassional. Luckly these days is a brief to do a recall, not like in the old days when you had to go knob by knob looking at a low res screen or a piece of paper with scratches or coffee spills.

My point here is go do your bounce and listen on your iPod, iPhone, car or where ever ... and then you'll find something you don't like .. just go back to your mix, and ask your self if it is a problem with levels, fx, eq, dynamics? .. or may be a general color which in this case is good to apply gentle EQ work or compression adjustments, here is good to be careful with the GR meter, a few dbs are just enough mostly with plugin compressors or limiters.

Anyway, is easier said than done! .. right?

Good Producing/Mixing!
Old 12th November 2018
  #69
Quote:
Originally Posted by staticmaker View Post
Years of experience. Ears which can actually "hear" what's going on in a mix. Understanding of signal treatment. Knowing the industry and the styles of mixing that evolve for emerging music genres. And more cowbell

Yeah and pro's have years of practice under their belts.

Do it a lot - you should get better at it.

Some people are 'naturals' and other need to work really had at it.
Old 12th November 2018
  #70
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Pro quality begins with the Musical instrument fidelity - Musical performance and the Musical composition being played. If any of these are lackluster before you hit the record button then what you capture when recording will obviously be lackluster.

Doesn't matter "How Good" the recording gear Is or "How Well" its captured. If the source of sound the human excellence making music is lacking you can end your quest right there. Doesn't matter how much sugar you try and shovel on top, you aren't going to improve the underlying issues causing the failure.

Its no different then building a house. If the foundation is weak the building is a fail.

Its also true when the musical performance, musical fidelity and the musical composition are great, the recording practically mixes itself.
Its actually hard to make it sound bad when those elements are captured.

The question then is where do most pro vs amateur recordings fall. How far can you "really" push an amateur musical performance to sound professional?

I think most engineers wouldn't want to admit their skills are limited here and would rather recant war stories about how they took lousy tracks and made them sound good, but when pushed I doubt any of them would admit to being highly pleased by the results. Its simply something you have to deal with a lot but not by choice. I'm sure most would prefer an amazing musical performance, with great fidelity and a fantastic score that's got great hooks.

That my friend is where tracking, mixing, and mastering move from being torture to being an absolute joy. Its also the kinds or recordings you don't mind working on for endless hours removing all imperfections to make it sound highly professional. The two go hand in hand unless money alone is enough to drive you to getting the best results.

I can say when I hear faults in the musical performance or the player holding back the passion needed to put the music over the top, I have to listen to it endless times over and over when mixing. If its something I cant influence mixing and its hurting the end results then the job is never going to be what I'd consider top notch.

In short - the magic is either captured or it isn't. When it is captured it leaves an afterglow and it mentally stimulates you to wanting to hear it again. Even if there are performance flaws you don't mind hearing them. When there is no magic, no passion, no emotion the music is essentially dead. yea it might be good for zombies but its not something I'd stick on my A list and not something I'd bust my hump mixing.

Its like seeing a movie in a theatre. Do you remember the story and the actors the next day, or is it just a blur where you feel beat up from an engineers excessive use of special effects trying to cover up a dud. Even bad songs like bad movies sometimes develop cult followings. People don't normally try to create a crappy recording for the purpose of being so bad you got to like it however. Even if they wind up with one its typically a fluke not an intention.
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