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Fader riding... DAW Software
Old 5th May 2007
  #1
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AlexLakis's Avatar
 

Fader riding...

In almost every compression thread, somebody suggests riding the fader as the best/quickest/most transparent option, and then a bunch of people concur. Personally, I have found this to be not so true in my experiences.

I am interested to hear from people who ride faders and write a lot of fader automation in their DAWs. How many passes does it take to accomplish what you need to accomplish on the average 3.5 minute pop/rock/country song? How many times do you go back and edit? Do you do a lot of deep editing?

I ask because I must not be very good at it. If you asked me to ride a fader straight thru a 5 minute song during an 8-hour tracking or mixing session to "even out dynamics" or whatever, I would probably not be able to do it. I would be able to do it after listening to the song, maybe, 20-50 times. I'd still have to go back and edit it, tho. Do I have attention span problems? I don't trust my short term memory enough to readily identify every dynamic modulation in a track after hearing it less than a dozen times. Or perhaps I'm just too much of a perfectionist? I can pick out fader rides pretty easily, and they bother me. I don't think they sound "transparent" or "natural" at all...at least when I do 'em! Or know when other people do them! Ha!

I find it hard to believe that you can accomplish what a clean, quick compressor (hardware or plugin) can accomplish in any reasonable amount of time. Do you make the client sit there while you play thru the song and go "Oh, wait, he goes 'Hi-ho the DAIRy-oh,' not 'Hi-ho the darY-oh...gotta go back and re-write that one--oops, here comes the next phrase...sh*t...?"

I would assume it's mostly the older, analog guys who are doing this. To me, it just doesn't seem very feasible, unless you have a LARGE amount of time to become intimately familiar with all of the tracks and write all that automation. I don't see it being a matter of "practice makes perfect" either, because I still won't be able to trust myself to know every one of the performance's subtle dynamic twists that well, and have "look-ahead" forsight and speed when writing.

And how about riding faders during tracking?? What are you guys, psychic?

I do some automation and fader riding, but not nearly as much as it seems a lot of you guys are doing it...Your thoughts, please!
Old 5th May 2007
  #2
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Chapiro's Avatar
 

Hi.

I always ride the faders on lead vocals even when Im using a compressor (hardware or software). Actually just a few hours ago i was doing a jazz trio mix where I had to be extra carefull not to mess the dynamic range on the sax while doing the rides ussually it takes 1 to 2 passes to acomplish the effect Im looking for, Ive never had a client complain about the time it takes nor about the final result. I guess like you said maybe ur beind a little bit of a perfectionst. I have to admit that with the type of control and editing power u get with automation on most DAWs one can get pretty anal with it. I just try to let go b4 i mess up. My 2 cents.

Chapiro
Old 5th May 2007
  #3
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Improv's Avatar
 

I'll respond because I have a feeling I know what thread you're referring to

In that thread, perhaps I oversimplified the process a little bit. The point I was making is that, for leveling purposes, given only 4 minutes to make a track sit in a mix, I would choose fader rides over fiddling with a compressor. This is not to say that every ride will be one pass... no matter what! Generally, there is editing, or trim passes after the inital ride. Also, I'm usually afforded the luxury of at least one recall... easy ITB... where I can "ride the rides" and smooth out areas that, upon listening to the first mixes, I've noted "over-rides." But not always. And in retrospect, I've always been more bummed about poor compressor settings than I have been about overzealous rides.

For me, the trick is actually to exaggerate the dyanamics on the first pass, then sculpt that down into the final dynamic with a few subsequent passes. When given the budget, I'll take, well... too many passes to whittle it down to where I'm satisfied, but often I'm surprised with the "one pass 'n' that's it" results... you'd be surprising how moving a mix can be when you overdo it a bit. Dynamics rule!

Do you have any motorized faders? I use the Beh... faders and they rule for the quick mix! Line up the 8 most important tracks/busses for a pass and go to town. We're talking minute movements here, but it really helps...
good compressors make the job easier, but as I said, I'm more likely to use a comp for waveform modulation than for leveling. It's just the way that's worked best for me

And I don't want to come across as some expert. I'm still learning the ropes like everyone else... but this is the fun stuff! Your chance to perform! Don't give the task to some gear... that's there for the vibe, you're there for the emotion...

And as for riding vocals while tracking... insane... I've seen it in practice, and it's totally beyond me and too old-school for my world...
Old 5th May 2007
  #4
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superburtm's Avatar
 

[QUOTE=Improv;1263597]given only 4 minutes to make a track sit in a mix, I would choose fader rides over fiddling with a compressor. QUOTE]

If I had 4 minutes to make a vocal sit in the mix I'd ram it through an 1176 and be done in less then 2 minutes.
Old 5th May 2007
  #5
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Improv's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by superburtm View Post
If I had 4 minutes to make a vocal sit in the mix I'd ram it through an 1176 and be done in less then 2 minutes.
And that's why people mix OTB. I do it the hard way
Old 5th May 2007
  #6
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Improv's Avatar
 

ay... and let's be clear here.

Vocals are a beast unto their own. To do it in one pass is scraping the bottom of the barrel and requires a tried-and-true compression scheme to meet you half way. But I've been there, and I still preferred doing it with rides mostly. 6-10 dB of DSP dynamic compression is not unheard of in my workflow, though. Vocal dynamics are impossible to generalize upon.
Old 5th May 2007
  #7
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asagaai's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Improv View Post
I'll respond because I have a feeling I know what thread you're referring to .....


And as for riding vocals while tracking... insane... I've seen it in practice, and it's totally beyond me and too old-school for my world...

Well-I know I'am insane-many people say it-good to see it confirmed. If you have a vocalist who hits huge peaks, and other sections soft-it is too much of an ask for a compressor/compressors in tracking to level, and IMHE I have ended up with scooped "inset" sections where the big notes happen. This sounds poop.

I have found riding a fader between pre amp and my 2 compressors in tracking vocals just the ticket. Sure the first take I F##ck up, but then on the second, third, fourth, you can pre-empt by watching the wave file on the previously recorded vocal track. Mistakes still happen, but now with any vocals with any dynamics this is what I do-and I get much better results.

But whatever works for you

Gavin
Newcastle/OZ
Old 5th May 2007
  #8
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Unclenny's Avatar
Ah yes....one thread does lead to another.

I like to get a big ol' expanded wave on my vocal track and carefully automate the gain to correct certain things....like consonants that are harsh or slightly dropped vowels.
I end up with a more articulate track that compresses more smoothly....helps with de-essing as well.
Old 5th May 2007
  #9
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I just produced an album where I got the engineer to ride the vocals by watching the gain reduction on an 1176. As the gain reduction came up he rode it down and then back up. seemed to work pretty transparently.
Old 5th May 2007
  #10
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asagaai's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheeky b View Post
I just produced an album where I got the engineer to ride the vocals by watching the gain reduction on an 1176. As the gain reduction came up he rode it down and then back up. seemed to work pretty transparently.

I woulda thought watching gain reduction and reacting to that would be too late-especially if a peak hits hard-you see the needle fly, reaction time-peak is unchanged.

This is why I like eyeballing a prior wave track to pre-empt, and also, you suss out how many db to dial out to make it sound muscial.

But if it worked for you it worked.

GJ
NewcastleOZ
Old 5th May 2007
  #11
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me too

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
Ah yes....one thread does lead to another.

I like to get a big ol' expanded wave on my vocal track and carefully automate the gain to correct certain things....like consonants that are harsh or slightly dropped vowels.
I end up with a more articulate track that compresses more smoothly....helps with de-essing as well.
Thats how I do it...seems to work well.
I would like to have some hands on control though...a physical fader or two
Old 5th May 2007
  #12
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Geert van den Berg's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheeky b View Post
I just produced an album where I got the engineer to ride the vocals by watching the gain reduction on an 1176. As the gain reduction came up he rode it down and then back up. seemed to work pretty transparently.
Quote:
Originally Posted by asagaai View Post
I woulda thought watching gain reduction and reacting to that would be too late-especially if a peak hits hard-you see the needle fly, reaction time-peak is unchanged.

This is why I like eyeballing a prior wave track to pre-empt, and also, you suss out how many db to dial out to make it sound muscial.

But if it worked for you it worked.

GJ
NewcastleOZ
I think gainriding into a compressor is quite a common method... More or less the same as running thru a compressor during mixdown only on a per track basis.

The compressor will take care of the transients, you can't react within ms anyway, the riding is more or less an overall level correction, not meant to duck consonants or anything.

No one that is riding during recording is going to foresee when some hits a loud consonant or anything, it's making sure the track is consistant in level, making it easier to mix and in the mix you might end up with less processing.
Old 5th May 2007
  #13
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Riccardo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLakis View Post
I would assume it's mostly the older, analog guys who are doing this. To me, it just doesn't seem very feasible, unless you have a LARGE amount of time to become intimately familiar with all of the tracks and write all that automation. I don't see it being a matter of "practice makes perfect" either, because I still won't be able to trust myself to know every one of the performance's subtle dynamic twists that well, and have "look-ahead" forsight and speed when writing.

And how about riding faders during tracking?? What are you guys, psychic?

I do some automation and fader riding, but not nearly as much as it seems a lot of you guys are doing it...Your thoughts, please!
The goal of every engineer is to accomplish what is believed to take a long time in a veryshort time heh

Yes practice makes perfect and yes it is mainly the "old" analog guys. (young at hearth I am sure though heh )

Being on or working on a small budget with time constrains is fine, as long as the artist/s involved are aware of the inevitable intrinsic compromises.

All that time spent on fader riding , automation, de-essing as well as tracking in the first place (taking for granted the song and arrangement, playing and the instruments) will pay off in the end.

So if a band or artist asks why his/her CD doesn't sound as good as this or that big production........well.............man....you see.......everything adds up in the end..........
Old 5th May 2007
  #14
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Thank you for the responses, guys!

Yes, Improv, the thread you responded to set me off; it was really the straw that broke the camel's back, tho. "Ride the faders!" as an end-all response to compressor threads is all-to-common on this board, and I'd like to delve into it a little further.

Chapiro, Improv, you guys can actually remember every place you'd want to bump the fader in a performance after just 1-2 listens? To me, that's just crazy (or genius!) I guess my A.D.D. is pretty bad; I'm lucky if I remember the lyrics in the hook after the tenth take!

And yes, I've had motorized faders for a while, I used the Behr--thingy for a while in Nuendo, and I've been working off of Control|24s and my own DIGI 002 for quite some time now.

Improv, your idea about exaggerating the fader rides on the first pass is neat, but it still seems a bit counter-productive to me. First of all, you'd have to go back and edit your moves for speed and reaction time, then you'd have to go back again and edit your moves again for dynamic range. That seems like a lot of work to "get things done fast," man! Like superburtm said, 1176, DONE.

Which leads me back to another point of mine: transparency. Am I the only one who thinks the change in level caused by fader riding is just blatenly obvious and distracting? I can hear a .2dB level change in the lead vocal in a crowded mix pretty easily (some days, .1dB,) and if that fader is moved during a vocal passage, I can definately tell that something was changed (and it wasn't on the performance end!) This distracts me. Compressors and limiters don't because, well, they're doing what they do! If you set them up properly, I can't see how fader riding would or could be any better, both in efficiency and sonic result. I certainly could imagine it, but this hasn't been the case for me in practice.

Now, I have definately rode the input on a pre/limiter while recording vocals before, as Geert mentioned. Naturally, this is done after the second or third pass after it has been identified that the vocalist is pinning the tracking compressor or the A/D or what-have-you with a loud note or two. As engineers, we definately have to get the job done, and that's really the only way to do it there.

Riccardo, I'm not limiting my talk to "low-budget" sessions (I have found that big label projects can be just as rushed if not moreso than private "low-buget" ones.) If I had all the time and budget in the world to work with on a project (which I sometimes do,) I'd still choose a compressor over fader riding simply because it sounds more transparent and natural to me. I'm not talking about compromising quality by not spending enough time on other important tracking techniques. I have worked on several "big productions," so don't just lump my post as "green," and move on. I'm a professional who is interested in the practical implementations of a seemingly common technique. And sorry about the age thing, I said "older" because older engineers grew up without the convenience of DAW automation (or fader automation alltogether!) I, being a child of the digital age, have not.

Thank you all again for your thoughts! Keep 'em coming!
Old 5th May 2007
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLakis View Post
Which leads me back to another point of mine: transparency. Am I the only one who thinks the change in level caused by fader riding is just blatenly obvious and distracting? I can hear a .2dB level change in the lead vocal in a crowded mix pretty easily (some days, .1dB,) and if that fader is moved during a vocal passage, I can definately tell that something was changed (and it wasn't on the performance end!) This distracts me. Compressors and limiters don't because, well, they're doing what they do! If you set them up properly, I can't see how fader riding would or could be any better, both in efficiency and sonic result. I certainly could imagine it, but this hasn't been the case for me in practice.
This is why manual riding on an analog console is still king...and this is coming from an old school analog guy. The resolution on an analog fader is so smooth its ridiculous when you go back and try to do the same on a controller or mouse. The hardest to ride by the way manually in a DAW are strings and bass which i've done all my life in analog in one pass.

Vocals these days i prefer to just draw in the automation which to me has become second nature like brushing my teeth or tying my sneakers. It goes by so fast you don't even think about it.

But i rarely ever let the compressor do all the work on a track and almost never on vocals(maybe personality tracks when mixing rap tracks).
Old 5th May 2007
  #16
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Riding faders. Isn't that called "engineering"? Yeah, it can take lots of passes. But I do it when recording on the fly ALL THE TIME when doing location sound. Of course I limit too. Takes practice. In mixing (now I'll admit I'm not the world's greatest mixer) I will often compress and ride a vocal. This having been said, I find vocals are about the only thing I ride in a mix, because the dynamics can have such a wide range, and I like them to be the loudest thing in the mix.

Last edited by soundbarnfool; 5th May 2007 at 05:05 PM.. Reason: incomplete
Old 5th May 2007
  #17
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dorisinger's Avatar
 

Can't you accomplish something very similar to gainriding prior to compression by putting two limiters or compressors in series - like an la2a and 1176?
Old 5th May 2007
  #18
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soundbarnfool's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLakis View Post

Which leads me back to another point of mine: transparency. Am I the only one who thinks the change in level caused by fader riding is just blatenly obvious and distracting? I can hear a .2dB level change in the lead vocal in a crowded mix pretty easily (some days, .1dB,) and if that fader is moved during a vocal passage, I can definately tell that something was changed (and it wasn't on the performance end!) This distracts me. Compressors and limiters don't because, well, they're doing what they do! If you set them up properly, I can't see how fader riding would or could be any better, both in efficiency and sonic result. I certainly could imagine it, but this hasn't been the case for me in practice.

Funny. My experience, for what it's worth is just the opposite. So often I hear tracks that are just squashed to death, I mean really offensive (to my ears anyway), and I think yikes, this vocal needs to breathe. If you ride the faders properly, you don't get those artifacts and coloration. And of course it helps if the vocalist has some voice control, which can be learned from a good vocal coach. You don't have to sing loud to sing high, etc.
Old 5th May 2007
  #19
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AlexLakis's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
This is why manual riding on an analog console is still king...and this is coming from an old school analog guy. The resolution on an analog fader is so smooth its ridiculous when you go back and try to do the same on a controller or mouse. The hardest to ride by the way manually in a DAW are strings and bass which i've done all my life in analog in one pass.

Vocals these days i prefer to just draw in the automation which to me has become second nature like brushing my teeth or tying my sneakers. It goes by so fast you don't even think about it.

But i rarely ever let the compressor do all the work on a track and almost never on vocals(maybe personality tracks when mixing rap tracks).
Hmm, that's pretty cool. I've never written automation on an SSL before (been kinda scared to, to tell you the truth!) I don't do too much work on big boards, so I can't comment on fader resolution from a practical standpoint. It seems to me most people are talking about doing this in their DAW anyways.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of letting a compressor do a lot of work (I try to make the vocalist do that!) I very rarely want to hear the compressor working too much, especially on vocals. Also, I'm not talking about extreme volume automation here. Like, for example, a hardcore song where the singer goes from whispering to screaming. I will not simply slap a compressor or limiter on the entire track to bring everything out. Most of the time, I'll move the whispering stuff to another track in my DAW and bring the level up. Sometimes, I'll just use the gain plugin...which is, in reality, just the same as writing fader automation in a way, I suppose...

I guess another question to pose is this: When are you riding faders, and for what purpose? Obviously, an answer would be "when something needs to be louder or softer, duh!" But aren't dynamics a GOOD thing? Even in a "hot"-style indie track? Do you guys ever have a hard time drawing lines (literally and figuratively) when it comes to natural dynamics, artistic intent and presentation? Are you guys just doing it every once in a while when the vocalist backs off the mic unintentionally, or are you trying to make every "and" and "but" as loud as every "soul" and "love?"

Again, obviously, "use your ears" and "whatever the track calls for" are the answers here. I'm just kind of confused, because I rarely find myself needing to automate so many things and so many other engineers keep raving about it on this board. For me, the natural dynamics of the instrument and performance are usually all I need...otherwise, you're kind of destroying the artistic presentation of it all, are you not? Isn't it the artist's job to move the song with dynamics, not the engineers'?
Old 5th May 2007
  #20
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Tim Abraham's Avatar
 

I like the sound of a compressor (or 3) on vocals--the right comp(s) with the right settings adds density and to my ears will often help the performance itself seem more controlled and polished. Of course, I still end up with lots of automation going on as well.

Using both/and gets the best results for me--I use compression for its sound, in addition to its dynamic leveling, and use automation to make the vocal sit in the right space through the arc of the song.
Old 5th May 2007
  #21
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Auslander's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Riccardo View Post
The goal of every engineer is to accomplish what is believed to take a long time in a veryshort time heh

Yes practice makes perfect and yes it is mainly the "old" analog guys. (young at hearth I am sure though heh )

Being on or working on a small budget with time constrains is fine, as long as the artist/s involved are aware of the inevitable intrinsic compromises.

All that time spent on fader riding , automation, de-essing as well as tracking in the first place (taking for granted the song and arrangement, playing and the instruments) will pay off in the end.

So if a band or artist asks why his/her CD doesn't sound as good as this or that big production........well.............man....you see.......everything adds up in the end..........
I think this is fair comment. Fader riding is second nature to me as I'm definitely an old analogue guy. However, it doesn't take long to do to even out any peaks or valleys and keep all parts of the vocal/whatever fully audible. Back in the old day pre-automation, this had to be done on the fly on every single pass, basically until you didn't miss anything, so it's all a matter of application. With automation you can focus in on the troublesome parts easily and tweak them so they match perfectly.
Old 5th May 2007
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLakis View Post
In almost every compression thread, somebody suggests riding the fader as the best/quickest/most transparent option, and then a bunch of people concur. Personally, I have found this to be not so true in my experiences.

I am interested to hear from people who ride faders and write a lot of fader automation in their DAWs. ...[snip]
ITB guy here -- though I come from the tape world and for the first 5 years of my DAW work I did OTB mixing -- as many 90s DAW users did -- particularly those with elaborate MIDI rigs like me.

I don't "ride faders" to automate -- I listen and directly edit envelopes...

I did my time in the old days "performing" elaborate realtime mixes and, frankly, one of the things I liked best as the computer slowly insinuated itself into my rig (first via MIDI synch and then as the audio media platform as well) was the ability to develop carefully concocted mixes without having to dance around the control room in time to the mix, riding faders and punching mutes back and forth...

In fact, even back in the 80s, one of the best engineers I worked with (as a producer) was a guy with a small (but very nicely appointed) 1" 16 track studio who did a lot of bouncing and comping -- which he considered "poor man's automation." (He has since won a Grammy and I'm seriously thinking he moved up on out of TASCAM land! :D )


At any rate, I also use compression, too. And that parallels how I used to work in realtime -- riding faders when necessary and applying compression when appropriate.
Old 5th May 2007
  #23
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For me, fader riding is a must.
Not only that, but for me, this is the beauty of working in Pro Tools.
The automation is outstanding!

Not just fader automation, but when you have a vocalist who every time they try and sing certain notes, that mid range 1.5k to 2.5k just pops through REALLY hard?

You just automate an EQ to dip 3 to 5 dB when that happens.

It actually works better than a fader move.
Sometimes a fader move can be to dramatic, compared to automating an EQ dip.
Sometimes... you have to do both.
Old 5th May 2007
  #24
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Auslander's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
For me, fader riding is a must.
Not only that, but for me, this is the beauty of working in Pro Tools.
The automation is outstanding!

Not just fader automation, but when you have a vocalist who every time they try and sing certain notes, that mid range 1.5k to 2.5k just pops through REALLY hard?

You just automate an EQ to dip 3 to 5 dB when that happens.

It actually works better than a fader move.
Sometimes a fader move can be to dramatic, compared to automating an EQ dip.
Sometimes... you have to do both.
I'm with you on both of these points.
Old 5th May 2007
  #25
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Indeed, I definitely will automate effects. Raising reverb and delay "mix" levels at the end of vocal phrases is something I do often. I also will do what Tony described with the mid levels and automate EQ during louder phrases (I've even been known to dip the mids on my Voxbox EQ while tracking during these kinds of notes.) I love the automation features in Pro Tools, and I use them often! I just don't ride the main volume fader on every track, which, apparently, is what a lot of people do, and it seems a lot of people think that you can't have a good mix without it, or even be an engineer at all if you don't do it!

So, again, could you people who are in this camp explain why you feel the need to do this? In my experiences, it is the performers who, at quieter passages, strum more gently, or sing more quietly, or pluck the 4th string on the bass a little more lightly. This is done on purpose (hopefully!) Of course, you'll get players who need a little help in this department, and I suppose one might choose to ride the faders instead of coaching them and doing another take...but to say that you "can't do a mix without volume automation" is kind of scary to me...
Old 5th May 2007
  #26
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Tony Shepperd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLakis View Post
Indeed, I definitely will automate effects. Raising reverb and delay "mix" levels at the end of vocal phrases is something I do often. I also will do what Tony described with the mid levels and automate EQ during louder phrases (I've even been known to dip the mids on my Voxbox EQ while tracking during these kinds of notes.) I love the automation features in Pro Tools, and I use them often! I just don't ride the main volume fader on every track, which, apparently, is what a lot of people do, and it seems a lot of people think that you can't have a good mix without it, or even be an engineer at all if you don't do it!

So, again, could you people who are in this camp explain why you feel the need to do this? In my experiences, it is the performers who, at quieter passages, strum more gently, or sing more quietly, or pluck the 4th string on the bass a little more lightly. This is done on purpose (hopefully!) Of course, you'll get players who need a little help in this department, and I suppose one might choose to ride the faders instead of coaching them and doing another take...but to say that you "can't do a mix without volume automation" is kind of scary to me...

I haven't heard anyone say, YOU CAN'T, it's just that there is no such thing as a perfect recording.

Most artist are in and out of the mic, looking down at the lyrics, turning their heads on loud notes, forgetting to come back to the mic on soft notes.

And with all of those parameters (and many more that you can think of), riding the fader is one of the best solutions.

There are other solutions.
Many times when I get a track, I will normalize a section of the track to even it out.
For instance in the verse, there are times the artist is to soft in the middle of a phrase, so I might normalize that section of the verse by 75%.

Or sometimes it's just a word they swallowed and you can't quite make it out.
Normalize is a great way to get that word to pop.

Ultimately, there are still fader rides to do.
Old 5th May 2007
  #27
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It takes me a couple passes to record fader automation depending on what I'm doing. I'm really picky when I'm riding delay on a main vocal. As far as riding vocals during tracking, I usually don't do that, but I have a few times-- usually in a problem area in the song, so I'll get a couple tries to get it right. Usually by that point, you already know the song pretty well and you know where the loud and soft parts are coming.

Last edited by DontLetMeDrown; 5th May 2007 at 08:17 PM.. Reason: spelling
Old 5th May 2007
  #28
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Riccardo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLakis View Post
Riccardo, I'm not limiting my talk to "low-budget" sessions (I have found that big label projects can be just as rushed if not moreso than private "low-buget" ones.) If I had all the time and budget in the world to work with on a project (which I sometimes do,) I'd still choose a compressor over fader riding simply because it sounds more transparent and natural to me. I'm not talking about compromising quality by not spending enough time on other important tracking techniques. I have worked on several "big productions," so don't just lump my post as "green," and move on. I'm a professional who is interested in the practical implementations of a seemingly common technique. And sorry about the age thing, I said "older" because older engineers grew up without the convenience of DAW automation (or fader automation alltogether!) I, being a child of the digital age, have not.

Thank you all again for your thoughts! Keep 'em coming!
I know, I know! I just wanted to liven up the conversation heh
I wasn't addressing you personally.

I will always do fader riding on a analog board. I will always spend a long time with automation (all sorts of) when I have to work ITB. But that's just me.......
Old 5th May 2007
  #29
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To me, a compressor is sort of an effects machine. I use it rather to get more attack or "bite" than for pure level purposes. I mean, it's a machine - and it's human beings singing or playing an instrument. How should a machine know what the human being is going to do? If an engineer has a waveform or sheet music or otherwise can foresee what the singer is going to do the next second, he can precisely react to that. As is possible with drawing automation curves. A machine will never be able to do that as individually as a human engineer.
IOW: for adjusting levels when a singer sings louder and softer, I use fader. To prevent consonants from clipping, I might use a compressor or limiter.
Especially in classical music, I always ride vocal soloists and some other stuff. Most of it is fader riding. No machines there.
Old 5th May 2007
  #30
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Improv's Avatar
 

Alright, a few additional points....

I never said those who don't ride aren't real engineers... nor would I ever say, "Do X or else your material will be crap"... obviously, we all have our own plan that works for us.

I agree that emotion through dynamics is best done at the performance, and if you can get those kinds of clients, awesome! It happens to me every so often, but day-in, day-out kinda clients... well, they need a little help. That's why I often tend to exaggerate dynamics on the first pass. Those rides really help move a song from section to section. Not to mention builds and breakdowns and such. It's hard for a musician to get that dynamic right in the studio, especially if they're layering track upon track in overdubs. It's takes a real vision to play all those parts with the final dynamic in mind.

So, basically, I don't feel that rides are messing with the integrity of the performance, simply augmenting and "fully realizing" the vision the artist had in mind. Obviously, they're right beside me saying, "no, I want that part quiet"... which is cool, that's why they come to the mix, right?

I don't mind instruments ducking in and out of the mix in a musical way... I'll ride them for arrangement impact, but I don't have to hear "everything, all the time".... now vocals, yeah, I'll go more in that direction with my rides.

And as far as being psychic and getting it in one pass... doesn't happen. I have a pretty terrible memory, so I use all the tools I can... looking at waveforms, dropping markers during a pass on sections I felt need more attention.... and of course, rewind! It's pretty easy in PT to stop a ride, go back a couple phrases, and drop back in. Sometimes I'm rewriting, sometimes trimming what I just did. But it's rarely perfect until after a several passes with some manual editing.

And as for the ride being noticeable, well obviously that's not desireable. I wish my controller faders had better resolution, but as a workaround as I've said, I'll use the command-modifier and the trackball... 0.1-0.5 dB rides are pretty easy to do smoothly this way. I almost enjoy the curve of the trackball for this... any way to retrofit the faders in our console with 2.5" balls?
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