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Every Mix nowdays sound like... Plastic!! Saturation Plugins
Old 4 weeks ago
  #151
Here for the gear
 
PitW's Avatar
This is a very interesting thread.
But I am a little bit confused on some of the answers...

Many here say "it's not the tools, it is your experience/ears/knowledge about mixing".
So if this is the case, it would be very unreasonable financally for every commercially run studio to buy expensive gear - why spend a lot of money if you could achieve the same with cheap gear?

So I think it has to be a mix between tools and know how
Old 4 weeks ago
  #152
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peppit View Post
This is a very interesting thread.
But I am a little bit confused on some of the answers...

Many here say "it's not the tools, it is your experience/ears/knowledge about mixing".
So if this is the case, it would be very unreasonable financally for every commercially run studio to buy expensive gear - why spend a lot of money if you could achieve the same with cheap gear?

So I think it has to be a mix between tools and know how
The entire discussion ONLY makes sense if you assume equal skills. It's either about skills or about the sonic character and potential of tools. Mixing it turns it all into a shltshow.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #153
Gear Nut
 
Konfus's Avatar
 

yeah, lets blame the gear!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #154
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Konfus View Post
yeah, lets blame the gear!
That's about the dumbest thing said in this thread. It's exactly what I was referring to in my previous post. Engineering skill and tools and their behaviour are SEPARATE. Why is it not possible to discuss tool behaviour without people getting their ego on it being about skill. Assume the skill is there regardless of the tool choice and go from there. Is that really so impossible?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #155
Lives for gear
 
IM WHO YOU THINK's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peppit View Post
This is a very interesting thread.
But I am a little bit confused on some of the answers...

Many here say "it's not the tools, it is your experience/ears/knowledge about mixing".
So if this is the case, it would be very unreasonable financally for every commercially run studio to buy expensive gear - why spend a lot of money if you could achieve the same with cheap gear?

So I think it has to be a mix between tools and know how
I've said it in a another thread. The belief seems to be that there are no 1:1 perfect digital models of analog gear, but if a qualified enginer uses many of the less than perfect emulations together, he'll achieve results that are comparable to using a studio full of the gear that's been modeled.

When I look at what I've spent over the years on plugins that edge closer and closer to hardware, it makes me want to just buy the HW from now on and be done.

The proper mix of HW/Software is best IMO. And, the amount that is the proper amount is a personal decision.

The truth of the matter is we have access to great tools, that are good enough to remove excuses. It really doesn't matter if digital tools are as good as their analog counterparts. If you can't use the digital to make great music/make money, having a bigger investment in gear wouldn't bring you closer to that. And if there were no digital tools, many people wouldn't be able to afford the analog equivalents. Today digital is good enough to remove excuses.

Use the tools you have to make money and buy better tools.

At the end of the day, it makes sense to resist the marketing. A protools TDM rig that used to be used to record hit records 10 years ago can be purchased for a fraction of what it used to cost. It's not the latest/greatest system, but it can still record hits as well as it could before.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #156
Gear Maniac
 

I’m gonna assume the engineer is skilled. I personally think it still comes down to gear choice and order of gear used. I do believe that plugins have something to do with a virtual instruments overall sound, if you use that plugin on it. But, my mixes sound pretty good. I love digital lol.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #157
Gear Maniac
 

I feel it's not about the mastering methods, not about the recording methods. It's the type of songwriting, instruments and processing. It's in the taste.

It's in that f--------- autotune EVERYWHERE, I can hear the tone of it, the plastic comes from too much corrective processing on vocals mainly. Now even on country records... Give me Harvest anyday...
It also comes from VST instruments. Everyone has the same instruments (many kids just get the pirated version with their "fruity loops") and many use the same presets and samples. Even the guys having all those euroracks of synth at the end often still end up sounding the same.
The sounds people like using are many times shrill and overly aggressive on those mid hi freqs.

The lack of dynamics help, but there is no dynamics in the songwriting to start with. Most tracks have one chord only, that doesn't help either.
There is not much creativity going on. Just immidiate, fast moving recording so it can go right away on the fast moving social network and they can go on the the next single.
I don't want to generalize and just be that old fart complaining about "today's music and kids", sometimes there is some good stuff too coming out.... I guess....
Old 4 weeks ago
  #158
Lives for gear
 
s wave's Avatar
- "The belief seems to be that there are no 1:1 perfect digital models of analog gear, but if a qualified engineer uses many of the less than perfect emulations together" -

This is a very important piece of this discussion on the 'plastic' sound imo. Subtleties of adding or removing frequencies, bands, overtones, undertones (or even frequency shift) [think auto/manual tuning also} - drastically changes the overall sound or feel of the mix.

If you have different tools sculpting one sound (along with its inherent character) along side another track with changes in different bands and nuances - it starts being the straw that breaks the camels back.

Just running one track with digi reverb in a 50 track dry mix really does not start doing so much - but when you add 2 or 3 or 50 plugins that start sonically fighting each other the result is plastic at best. Now I am also a fan of the plastic sound.

Much of the modern glitch music is exactly this. When trying to obtain this modern sound (which is loved by many) much of it is obtained by juxtaposing sounds that are intentionally going to fight each other producing this plastic sound. This is exactly what I recently asked Starcadian (who was so kind to make himself available to the GS community) in this GS thread:

Glitching/distortion techniques
Glitching/distortion techniques

I also enjoy the growing genre of modern glitch and have delved into it a bit. Example: If you take a bass drum sample and strip out or add one small band (a couple of hertz - like on a graphic editor) it might instantly not even sound like a bass drum anymore; it could sound like hitting a hammer on a submarine hull. Now take another sample say a snare drum and do the same thing (stripping or adding a small band frequency) and play the samples simultaneously; the result can be super plastic! This is an art in this genre.

Too me the genre of heavy metal would once in a while near this interesting phenomena, though different means.

Distortion on distortion can do some irritating or incredibly pleasing things.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #159
Gear Maniac
 

I think another thing to point out is that the OP said EVERY mix! Now days sounds plastic. Is this plastic sound, a new sound? Is it in every genre? Or just on rap records? I hear country songs that use pro tools or logic for their mixes. And they sound great. Bottom line! This is a broad statement to say EVERY mix.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #160
Lives for gear
 
s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagicorn35 View Post
I think another thing to point out is that the OP said EVERY mix! Now days sounds plastic. Is this plastic sound, a new sound? Is it in every genre? Or just on rap records? I hear country songs that use pro tools or logic for their mixes. And they sound great. Bottom line! This is a broad statement to say EVERY mix.
I don't think 'Every' mix and song... but ya most. And Glitch noise etc. genres are the leaders in plastic... (along with DuPont)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #161
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
The entire discussion ONLY makes sense if you assume equal skills. It's either about skills or about the sonic character and potential of tools. Mixing it turns it all into a shltshow.
Are you talking about digital engineering skills (mixing and such), or engineering with regards to getting a high quality recording? I ask because I often see people suggest that an amateur wouldn't be able to use high-end gear to its full potential in the same way that an experienced engineer would, but I feel like this distinction is greatly overstated. Most analog gear is not that difficult to configure in a chain, with minimal research, and get a really high end recording. An amateur might require a little trial and error to get the right settings, but the gear itself is responsible for 99% of the professional sound (assuming a treated room). IMO, the skill/experience portion as it relates to analog gear has more to do with selecting the right gear for the job than anything. If you give a newbie artist a 15k vocal chain, they'd easily be able to get a good sound from it without knowing much about it.

As I like to say - vocals/audio recording through a really high end chain practically mixes itself in many cases, in that it requires very little post processing, at least when it comes to vocals.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #162
Lives for gear
 
s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metroid View Post
Are you talking about digital engineering skills (mixing and such), or engineering with regards to getting a high quality recording? I ask because I often see people suggest that an amateur wouldn't be able to use high-end gear to its full potential in the same way that an experienced engineer would, but I feel like this distinction is greatly overstated. Most analog gear is not that difficult to configure in a chain, with minimal research, and get a really high end recording. An amateur might require a little trial and error to get the right settings, but the gear itself is responsible for 99% of the professional sound (assuming a treated room). IMO, the skill/experience portion as it relates to analog gear has more to do with selecting the right gear for the job than anything. If you give a newbie artist a 15k vocal chain, they'd easily be able to get a good sound from it without knowing much about it.

As I like to say - vocals/audio recording through a really high end chain practically mixes itself in many cases, in that it requires very little post processing, at least when it comes to vocals.
If you define noob... we might have an answer... I would think a novice could obtain a good sound. Heck a lot of noobs might not even connect the connectors in the right sockets or even use wrong input or line voltage or use wrong step up ratio in the chain.
put the Neumann on the counter and back away slowly...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #163
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by IM WHO YOU THINK View Post
Hip Hop is an umbrella, not a sub genre.
There were drugs in it since the beginning. The moral compass of it was different and getting high wasn't something to be proud of.
Imma have to apologize to you and boombapdame. I thought I was on to something. On my end in Cali. People thought I was nuts for thinking rap music was the genre. But I was wrong when i really started to look at. You take care bro and thanks for correcting those terms for me. I was on a roll. Lol.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #164
Lives for gear
 
IM WHO YOU THINK's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagicorn35 View Post
Imma have to apologize to you and boombapdame. I thought I was on to something. On my end in Cali. People thought I was nuts for thinking rap music was the genre. But I was wrong when i really started to look at. You take care bro and thanks for correcting those terms for me. I was on a roll. Lol.
No biggie bruh. I appreciate your post. We all make mistakes. You should hear some of the mixes I've left on the board thinking I was "almost done" only to come back the next day wondering "who took down my mix and put up this terrible mess."
Old 4 weeks ago
  #165
Lives for gear
 
boombapdame's Avatar
Apology accepted @Sagicorn35
Old 4 weeks ago
  #166
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by IM WHO YOU THINK View Post
No biggie bruh. I appreciate your post. We all make mistakes. You should hear some of the mixes I've left on the board thinking I was "almost done" only to come back the next day wondering "who took down my mix and put up this terrible mess."
Lmao.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #167
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by PitW View Post

So I think it has to be a mix between tools and know how
A few grand of gear today can record and replay with better fidelity than a million dollar studio from the 1970s. It's know-how and the room. The giant leap forward you get going into a studio is you're going into a large treated space + people that (should) know what they're doing at the controls.

Give a good engineer almost any kit and a great room and he'll make it sound great - and that's probably the nub of this thread - lots of hip-hop R&B, rap (and pop now) are not recorded in live rooms by humans interacting with each other - they are samples and virtual instruments in a box of 0s and 1s. I'm not saying it's impossible to recreate that vibe using these tools - but it's pretty darn difficult to do so with any regularity. Even an average band playing in a great room will sound fantastic, the human element is being forgotten and that's why modern music is sounding increasingly plastic - it doesn't help than modern audiences have been brainwashed into thinking autotuned-to-death warbling is singing.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #168
Here for the gear
 
PearlOn3's Avatar
some plugins leave a plastic texture on the material. the slate stuff and many of the newer waves plugins come to my mind. in connection with aggressive use of autotune, edgy saturation and distortion fx on every channel, large unnatural spaces and long reverb decays, this can quickly sound like plastic beach. But... that does not have to be bad. Tastes are different.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #169
Gear Maniac
 
Bart Nettle's Avatar
It could mean artificial, it could also mean littered worthless garbage that is everywhere; pollution; cheap.

It is a poor choice for a word unless it is clearly defined as what it means regarding a mix.
That every mix sounds like it is a generality; makes this thread useless.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #170
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scragend View Post
A few grand of gear today can record and replay with better fidelity than a million dollar studio from the 1970s. It's know-how and the room. The giant leap forward you get going into a studio is you're going into a large treated space + people that (should) know what they're doing at the controls.

Give a good engineer almost any kit and a great room and he'll make it sound great - and that's probably the nub of this thread - lots of hip-hop R&B, rap (and pop now) are not recorded in live rooms by humans interacting with each other - they are samples and virtual instruments in a box of 0s and 1s. I'm not saying it's impossible to recreate that vibe using these tools - but it's pretty darn difficult to do so with any regularity. Even an average band playing in a great room will sound fantastic, the human element is being forgotten and that's why modern music is sounding increasingly plastic - it doesn't help than modern audiences have been brainwashed into thinking autotuned-to-death warbling is singing.
I agree. You could say modern hip hop sounds plastic in the sense that it's all artificially generated inside laptops with prefabricated sounds, and lacking the human component as well as real instruments being recorded in actual spaces, etc.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #171
Lives for gear
 
IM WHO YOU THINK's Avatar
 

Even if we pin down what the plastic is and accept its existence, there are multiple things wrong that contribute: The loudness war, DAWs vs analogue, guys who never properly gainstaged, guys who use way more processing trying to emulate character of analogue, than ever was used before.etc...

Also, the fact that the art of tracking records is virtually non existent. Hell, guys don't even want to track sounds from a drum machine and keyboards any more

Also, fewer people with any understanding of actual music and musicianship

It's microwave music, with microwave mixing in a box, and Nuke it till its loud mastering, by "artists" that moonwalked backwards into record deals with the holes wide open, how the heck can we blame the Digital by itself?

Change the instruments, the studio/gear, and the quality of musicianship, and of course it sounds worse. It's recorded/produced/and mixed different.
Old 1 week ago
  #172
Lives for gear
 
Zacchino's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagicorn35 View Post
I think another thing to point out is that the OP said EVERY mix! Now days sounds plastic. Is this plastic sound, a new sound? Is it in every genre? Or just on rap records? I hear country songs that use pro tools or logic for their mixes. And they sound great. Bottom line! This is a broad statement to say EVERY mix.
We're in the Hip-Hop Sub. I see Hip-Hop as a "Multi-Genre" sourced music style (sometimes HHop borrows from EDM, sometimes old Soul/Funk samples, sometimes Rock). But I precised what music I was reffering to in my post as well.

I wrote this post out of despair when I realized that not only nowdays Pop, Trap, EDM but even OST/Movie Soundtrack had this plastic sonic vibe to it (as this particular music is supposed to feel huge and natural, breathy and subtle).

I'm still using my MDR 7509 and I can hear this issue on and on specially since 2008.
Old 1 week ago
  #173
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zacchino View Post
We're in the Hip-Hop Sub. I see Hip-Hop as a "Multi-Genre" sourced music style (sometimes HHop borrows from EDM, sometimes old Soul/Funk samples, sometimes Rock). But I precised what music I was reffering to in my post as well.

I wrote this post out of despair when I realized that not only nowdays Pop, Trap, EDM but even OST/Movie Soundtrack had this plastic sonic vibe to it (as this particular music is supposed to feel huge and natural, breathy and subtle).

I'm still using my MDR 7509 and I can hear this issue on and on specially since 2008.
Gotcha! Sorry for the misunderstanding. I do understand what you mean tho.
Old 5 days ago
  #174
Gear Maniac
 
open_source's Avatar
 

Imo, I don't really hear modern mixes as "plastic". I also agree with what some others have said, in that when I personally listen to older recordings they sound better in a way, but also definitely within the context of the time they they were made.

Again, just my opinion - I actually DON'T think a lot of older mixes sound better, not the mixes themselves - not nearly as much as we claim, anyway. What I think was way better in those songs that we use as examples was the songwriting itself, the soul of the performances, and especially the diversity.

A massive factor is just having real performers vs. grid-locked samples. There's just no way for example to really (imo) get a piano VST to sound like a human performance simply by drawing in MIDI notes and trying to humanize them (although I think you can go very far with it, especially if you study the "humanized" aspects of actual piano performances). But, give that same VST to a competent performer at the top of their game and let them play the part - I think that's the only place it can possibly achieve its full expressivity (imo).

I have seen a lot of interviews about the rose tinted glasses we have about music from the past, stuff where people point out all of the many terrible songs from the 60's and onward that were right alongside those legendary ones. The same goes with bad mixes.

I know that the whole grid-based thing is another contentious topic. The simplest way I can explain my opinion on it is communicated in this video, basically just that I think there is a difference between having great timing and great feel.





So, consider a lot of trend-based modern music (top 40 stuff, trendy underground, etc.)
  • very often there are ZERO actual performers
  • the songwriting is very often "elementary"
  • even a lot of the "underground" stuff is really just commercial and not about artistic individuality (how many "money, clothes, cars and ****" songs are there?) - lack of diversity in artistry


I think the plasticizing of expressivity across the board is 90% of it. No analog gear can save that kind of music anyway. But yeah, on diversity, look at the diversity in early music, even just within rock: Ozzy, Zeppelin, Rush, ELP, Hendrix, Santana. Hell, just look at the diversity of artists who played Woodstock.

AND... those bands seemed to me to be a lot more grassroots. A lot of acts today seem very put together. They weren't friends who started a band. They were "assembled".
Old 5 days ago
  #175
Lives for gear
 
s wave's Avatar
[I am going to preface my post with the following: Often, when cutting edge technology, art and sounds are discussed, the lack of a precise and well understood vocabulary create for a lot of semantics and heated rhetorical arguments. The 'je ne sais quoi' (the I can't quite put my finger on it) or (cannot be adequately described or expressed ) sandbox is created' This 'je ne sais quoi sandbox' is very prominent and relevant to these types of discussions.]

Glitch/noise music has been around for over 100 years. Deliberate use and creation of obvious or over-the-top glitch-based sounds and sonic artifacts are integral parts of many genres. When it is very severe and starts creeping into well established genres; heads are raised. The plasticity of over processed sounds (especially with vocals) has flooded the main stream and popular music. Whether it be over auto-tuning or heavier distortion, (eq The Middle: YouTube) in what once was very established genres the playing field changes. Much of the subtle and very controlled distortion found in mics capsules circuitry interface taping phasing smearing etc.has become the 'norm' and widely accepted in the recording industry... often described as masterfully 'coloring' a sound. But when a newer distortion or over saturated sound intensifies; new trends are established many times it causes a stank.

I like it in many songs and don't like it many songs. Usually, I like to be 'let in' especially with the vocals and many times if there is not enough transparency in the singers voice, (at least in little vignettes) I often do not relate to the song as much. For me here it misses the mark and I do not enjoy or want to listen to the song.

I like plasticity as much as transparency but for me it depends on the song.
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