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Adding high end to everything during Mixing. Is this Normal?
Old 25th June 2005
  #1
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NuSkoolTone's Avatar
 

Adding high end to everything during Mixing. Is this Normal?

OK so here's the thing. I'm mixing ITB and all the original source material is Hard disk (No tape).

I find on nearly EVERYTHING (Except Overheads), I keep adding TONS of high end to nearly every track(or group) to get the clarity I am looking for. Is this normal?

Before you ask, no my ears aren't shot. They're been recently tested and I use professional hearing protection when appropriate.

Main recording chain(I'm a little "low-end" here which I will touch in a moment):

-Typically I'm running a Whirlwind medusa 100' Snake to the "control room" (We'll call it that for now)

-Using decent quality wire from the whirlwind box to the mics (57's, 421's, a TLM 103 etc.. Not high end, but not bargain bin)

Typical mic setup

Drums: sm57 snare, Audix D6 kick, senn e604's or 421mkII's on toms, TLM 103 on OV (414's when I have them on loan)
Gtr: 57/421
Bass: DI
Vox: TLM 103 (SM58's if live)
Keys: DI

-Comes back to an A&H mixwizard, and my Phenix DRS-2 (Only slutty pre I have)

-Most of this gets gentle EQ on the way in, and some Compression (Mostly RNC's) on a few tracks.

-There used to be patch bays (Mostly Pro Co 48's) involved, but they had cheap wiring and I found that added to the clarity issue. So I ditched the patch bays until I can afford good cabling (Belden Mogami, etc.)

-After that we get to the converters which are M-Audio Delta1010LT's.

-I am monitoring primarily on HR824's.

-Working in Nuendo, with UAD-1's and all the standard native stuff.

-I'm doing mostly Pop/Rock Stuff.
(Yup, I'm a project studio poster child)


So how much is my recording chain killing my high end? Is it that the high end is there and it's not getting pulled in by the pres/converters? Or does source material typically need some boost in the EQ? I don't think it's the mic choices, I'm using all "standard stuff", the cabling back to the pres (Albeit long) are good (belden).

The DRS-2 is almost always used for Drum OV's, and for most Dubs later (If we're doing dubs). With exception of the Drum OV's, I STILL find myself adding high EQ! Even with the TLM103!

I'm not afraid to use EQ, but I feel like I'm using it to compensate and I hate that. I'm sure it makes the sound more "artificial" and there's TONS of phase issues being created by it. Am I just going to have to suck that up until I can afford "The good stuff?"


Anywhere I can here NAKED tracks of stuff recorded using the "good stuff?"


Input greatly appreciated. Thanks
Old 25th June 2005
  #2
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DrDeltaM's Avatar
 

Does your stuff sound good on other systems? The M-Audio convertors sound kinda dark in my experience, maybe you're compensating for that.
Old 25th June 2005
  #3
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M-Audio converters aren't as dark as they are just unclear. You also have bass heavy monitors. You are probably compensating for both of these. Also I'm sure you know keep in mind there's a yin/yang with eqing. cutting bottom is like adding top etc. You may need to find what is causing the mud or boominess and fix that before adding top. It may even be on instrument/mic that blows it for the whole mix.
Old 25th June 2005
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NuSkoolTone

-After that we get to the converters which are M-Audio Delta1010LT's.

-I am monitoring primarily on HR824's.
this is where i would investigate first..... but i could be wrong.
good luck,
joshua
Old 25th June 2005
  #5
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Jose Mrochek's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NuSkoolTone
I find on nearly EVERYTHING (Except Overheads), I keep adding TONS of high end to nearly every track(or group) to get the clarity I am looking for. Is this normal?
Try adding EQ on your mix bus. And kind of emulate what's going to happen in mastering. If you find that EQ'ing the mix bus helps getting what you are looking for, take it off and send it to mastering, and let them do the highend eq'ing for you.

We work with low end gear to. And theres nothing more ****ty in this world than high frequency added by low end stuff.
Old 26th June 2005
  #6
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Are your monitors up against a wall?


Reason I ask is that a couple of times I've had friends ask me to come listen to their stuff and help them figure out why they're having to EQ so much and the first thing I notice is that the monitors are backed up to the wall.

Those HR824's aren't what I use, but there's no reason you can't get a decent result out of them. (I'll venture to say the same thing about the converters.)

First thing I recommend is that you put on some CD's that you're familiar with (make sure they're imported into a session so you're hearing them through the same chain.) Then try moving your monitors around the room. If you have stands, good, but if you don't, try them on a table or desk, and put them on top of some books to get them up just a little (ear level is a good idea!) Try to find a place where the CD sounds like you think it should. If you find a place that sounds quite a bit better, your mixes should improve immediately. Spend some time with the placement thing. Even if the room's not that good, speaker placement can help things quite a bit. Also, consider your monitoring levels (too loud?) Sounds like you have a pretty good idea of how this all works, so chances are you have this under control already.

If your computer monitor is not a flat-panel, it shouldn't be inbetween the speakers. That big ol' mass wreaks havoc with the sound.

This is all probably obvious, but if you can't hear what you're doing, all the rest is unimportant. On the other hand, if you've got the recording/mixing process mostly under control, getting your monitors to better tell you what's going on will do wonders for your tunes.
Old 26th June 2005
  #7
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cdog's Avatar
Commercial modern rock mixes these days are very bright and way too loud. If you're trying to match those you will have to use a lot of processing.

Throw on some old 60s recordings to let your ears return to hearing what music actually sounds like - unprocessed.

For what its worth I usually mix with a slight 1-2 db shelf boost @ 8khz across the whole mix. I find I use less EQ on the individual instruments this way.

Old 26th June 2005
  #8
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superburtm's Avatar
 

Hey Max where would you suggest putting the flat screen monitor if not between the speakers?
Old 26th June 2005
  #9
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NuSkoolTone's Avatar
 

Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions. thumbsup

You guys brought up some great points, which I should have mentioned!

Speaker placement and room:

Sadly, once again it is WAY less than ideal. Basically it's a small (8'x8'?) basement bedroom, with little to no treatment. The monitors ARE pretty much against the wall (About a foot away) AND there is a hunking 19" CRT between them! (Never heard of this one before though. To make matters worse my Left speaker is more less in the corner (Desk shoved in the corner because the room is so small.) I'm mixing a little close, sometimes nearly 2 feet from the speakers, but ususally more like 3 - 3 1/2 feet.

Now despite this, I seem to have learned the room/monitors pretty well. There is little to no bass in the room, which sometimes I will go outside the room to help judge, because for some reason it "reappears" about 4 feet outside the room. On the monitors I have the bright enhancement on, because I'm aware I tend to be a "bright/crisp mix" kind of guy, no low end roll off is performed on the actual monitors. However the software for the 1010LT has a neat utility that allows me to choose multiple bass roll-offs (like at 120,80,60 etc) which I switch on and off to make sure the kick and bass won't disappear on a clock radio. However giving truth to what I've read about the HR824's they're a real bitch to get the bass to sit right, it's almost always what I fight with before the mix finally "falls in."

Said that, I find my mixes translate pretty well to what I expect, with the exception of someimes the sub bass being overpowering (Lightbulb going off here!) which may be part of the clarity issue as one of you alluded to. With the exception of one mix I did recently where at first it was "Great, but a little harsh and perhaps too aggressive", where after the recall "Sucked, because it sounds muffled in their Ford Escape(!)" yet on computer monitors the diference between mixes "wasn't much different" these quotes are straight from the "client". Oh well can't win every one I guess! (Sorry to include, I'm still just irritated by this)

Also, other mixes sound "Normal" in my speakers, and my mixes seem to have a similar freq response for similar genre. I can still hear the subtle differences, but realize I don't have the means to acheive that at this time both by gear and experience.

I am curious could you elaborate about CRT's between monitors, and the EQ effects of speakers against the wall besides tainting the low end?
Old 26th June 2005
  #10
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SlowCooker's Avatar
 

An 8X8 room can have some effect, one because of the same distance between 2 sets of parallel walls hence twice the boost(and cut) at the standing wave..you can calculate this easily after you find the exact dimentions. Also, and standing waves creating nodes and antinodes in a "SMALL ROOM" will cause more colorization in the low mids as they are are spread out more and thus more noticable. Read up on some room acoustics to figure this one out.

Also, if you have a speaker in the corner it is in "quarter space" and the bass responce is enhanced twice as much as in half space. If the speaker is up against the wall it is in "half-space and the bass will be inhanced. The HR824s are nicely equipped with a little switch on the back to compenstae for this. Try playing with this and see if it helps. It might clean up the low end a bit.

Also - dont forget that everybody loves to crank up the bass and treble knobs on their car systems, esp those Ford stock systems that never sound tremendous anyway

have fun
Old 26th June 2005
  #11
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NuSkoolTone
The DRS-2 is almost always used for Drum OV's, and for most Dubs later (If we're doing dubs). With exception of the Drum OV's, I STILL find myself adding high EQ! Even with the TLM103!
I love my DRS-2, but I wouldn't call it an excessively bright preamp, and it doesn't have much built in extra sizzle that some others do and which is often required for modern rock. Also, the 103 has a huge proximity effect, so you have to resist the temptation to mic everything too close. If your room is noisy or just doesn't sound great you might find yourself micing everything too close, which can lead to muddy buildup. Or if your room is overly dead you're not getting that extra bit of liveliness that can brighten up a track. Lots of little things. Perhaps the musical arrangements are cluttered, perhaps the drums aren't tuned just right, perhaps the bass needs new strings, the players don't have a clear touch, the performances aren't locked. I'm not picking on you--these are all problems I've experienced, and solving each one takes you a step further.

Good luck,
R
Old 26th June 2005
  #12
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Zeppelin4Life's Avatar
 

I find myself usually adding highend to a lot of things except overheads and vocals. extra high end usually sounds 'pure'. but nothing is worse than overly bright cymbals or vocals.
Old 1st September 2005
  #13
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drundall's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdog
Commercial modern rock mixes these days are very bright and way too loud. If you're trying to match those you will have to use a lot of processing.

Throw on some old 60s recordings to let your ears return to hearing what music actually sounds like - unprocessed.

As much as I like a lot of that music, maybe he doesn't want his recording to sound like an anachronism.
Old 1st September 2005
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Accoustics, Man! Build some bass traps. You'll be gobsmacked with the results!
You have to look at accoustics in a very logical way. If your bass is too strong that's gonna make the meter jump, so you're actually listening to bass freq's hitting 0db while everything else is somewhere in the back. Basstraps do not only lower the bass like a eq or low-cut does, but it brings out the essence and high-end detail of the recording because for once your equipment is able to record that
information loud enough. At least those are my findings.
Old 1st September 2005
  #15
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natpub's Avatar
Agree with the possible suspects mentioned above.

Also, when you say you are EQ'ing to track, what are you usually doing?

Last thing I would look at is trying cutting low end rather than boosting high--maybe try high passing all non-drum/bass tracks around 80-100 or so.

Check everything with decent headphones may reveal some of your room, monitor, and converter issues as well.


g'luck
Old 1st September 2005
  #16
Gear Nut
 

Good answers here.

Try www.johnlsayers.com For acoustic help and also links.

You are in a bit of a stinky shaped room if it is 8x8. But go to the aforementioned site and read a BUNCH!!!

And also try two things with your ITB scenario.

Firstly take the above advice and try HPF ing or turning down any bass Freqs that are un needed. ( Probly ignore this on Bass Gat and Bass kik but again yr ears will tell ya if these guys NEED this treatment.

Secondly ( Big importance here). Dont run yr EQ's hot. Try and either trim the volume of yr tracks or if you have a dynamic device prior to any eq then back offa the output so's not to overshoot the EQ. ESOECIALLY offa you are adding top end.

But dollars to donuts your room size/shape and monitor placement will be more likely the villians than yr convertors.
Old 1st September 2005
  #17
You can get mastering engineers to admit that a lot of what they do is add High Frequency EQ to mixes.

The tip from Jose Mrochek below is a good one..

Try running with some HF EQ on the mix buss.. (and record two versions - one with & one without)

Mastering engineers have very high quality HF adding gear in their tool kit... It's a big part of the job.

An analog / old skool mixing trick is / was to use a GML 8200 eq across the whole mix to lift the HF - precisely so that you don't have to on each individual channel.

I have come to the conclusion that the happiest engineers must be those that can tolerate mixing with it sounding "woolly" with no HF, as if a wet blanket is in front of the speakers, THEN handing it over to a mastering engineer to CRANK the HF on some high quality eq with a giant pair of pliars..

Old 1st September 2005
  #18
Gear Nut
 

Hey Man...
I've noticed slowly as I'm upgrading different parts of my signal chain, I am boosting the high end (and lowering around 250 hz) less and less. When I first started and was using a C1 into like an aphex 207 pre to aardvark converters it was eq central... boosting like 8 db - 12 db over the whole high spectrum and cutting severly at around 250 hz to get that same clarity you're talking about... now with the Lawson L47 (which I just recieved from mitch today... awesome mic and smoothest transaction ever) into the portico into the RME... I boosted maybe 2 db around 13 khz and cut maybe 2 db around 250 hz and got that same clarity with very little processing... I think it takes some deprogramming of your ears but it's most likely the delta converters and maybe your preamp selection(?). But yeah since upgrading a lot of my stuff... the only instruments I boost highs on are toms, snare, kick and vocals and it's no where like it used to be.

Reading this over it seems like rambling. Sorry. :P
Old 1st September 2005
  #19
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It's normal if that's what you need to do to make things sound right when you reference on other systems: home stereos, cars, etc.

I used to mix through a Tascam M-512. I had to crank the high eq knob full clockwise to get a sound I thought was appealing.

It does seem a little odd you're having to do this in a mostly digital realm.

I now mix through a Soundcraft Ghost. I find on almost every mix I'm cutting something between 250 & 350, adding a little high mid and a little top.
Old 1st September 2005
  #20
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toolskid's Avatar
 

how do your reference tracks sound in your room
Old 1st September 2005
  #21
High frequency boost is a sure sign that your gear is absorbing the tops. Transparent gear doesn't need high EQ boost. Nor does natural sounding music. It has plenty of tops.

I would review each piece and determine how much loss is occuring through it.

Then attack the loss areas. It's possible to do an entire production without any top boost EQ and still have it sound more open than the hyped up stuff.

Remember, there's two types of applied EQ. One is to enhance, the other is to correct. If you find yourself in the second catagory, an equipment review is in order.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 1st September 2005
  #22
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A101's Avatar
 

From what I read it seems like your biggest problem is your room.
It is a square room, which will screw up most your frequencies.
Put bass traps (floor to ceiling) in all the corners and to wall ceiling corners.
Hi/Mid absorbers on the sidewalls of your sitting position (using the mirror trick)
There are a few acoustics forums that you can learn a lot from.

I don’t think your gear is the problem.
You can get good results even with a 4-track cassette PortaStudio once you tune (flatten) your room.
Old 1st September 2005
  #23
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DirkB's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams
High frequency boost is a sure sign that your gear is absorbing the tops. Transparent gear doesn't need high EQ boost. Nor does natural sounding music. It has plenty of tops.
While of course that is true, perhaps it's not the issue here. Recording all acoustic sources with mostly close micing is a guarantee for too much "relative" lowend due to proximity effect. Secondly, if you're recording in a less than stellar room, chances are low-mids and lows are excessive compared to the highs...

If this is the case in your room, try if you can back of the mics a little.

With correct mic placement you should be able to record guitars and vocals without needing tons of high end. With drums in a small and not very well treatened room it's very dificult to not have too much lowend. Try getting rid of quite a lot of the 300Hz on overheads, toms, kick and room and perhaps shelf of some lowend also.

Good luck,
Dirk
Old 1st September 2005
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NuSkoolTone
On the monitors I have the bright enhancement on, because I'm aware I tend to be a "bright/crisp mix" kind of guy
What does that mean? The monitors are boosting the highs? And then you feel you need to add more anyway?

Do you feel you need to add high end when you listen to each track individually, or when you put them altogether?

Quote:
Also, other mixes sound "Normal" in my speakers
I'm curious to know what you're listening to. You said typical pop/rock, but I'm wondering specifically what music you're talking about.

The world does seem to be high end junkies (which is weird because chicks like bass).

P.S. I just read an article somewhere about EQ and phase issues, and apparently that's a myth.
Old 1st September 2005
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
...C1 into like an aphex 207 pre to aardvark converters it was eq central... boosting like 8 db - 12 db over the whole high spectrum...
HOLY JUBEZUS!!! I thought the C1 was excruciatingly bright to begin with!

Man, I dunno, I find the opposite thing happening, with the cheap gear I always seemed to have to CUT high freqs because they so nasty loud!
Old 1st September 2005
  #26
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musical5's Avatar
 

I had this same problem until I sold my M-Audio and bought a Fireface. I highly recommend the upgrade.
Old 2nd September 2005
  #27
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u b k's Avatar
 

it's the room. as others have said, basstrap the hell out of it, and pronto.

room acoustics are not glamorous or exciting like a shiny new preamp, so it's all too easy and common for people to gloss it over in pursuit of a solution which feeds their gearlust. don't do that; nothing is more rewarding than working in a room which sounds great, and nothing is more frustrating than working in one that doesn't.

until you do treat your room, you will find no peace. you are not hearing anything remotely resembling the truth, you are making engineering choices based on that falsehood, and you are hearing the false representation of those choices. if you're tracking in there, then your tracks are printed with those phase distortions to begin with, so every issue is automatically doubled when you hit play.

you can't 'learn the room' when it's an 8x8 concrete bunker, because half of the bass info is grossly exaggerated and the other half is completely absent. there is no compensating for things that aren't there to begin with.

realtraps, or just 4"x2'x4' rockwool slabs covered with breathable fabric, stacked in the corners and hung from the wall/ceiling joints will be nothing short of a small miracle.


gregoire
del ubik
Old 2nd September 2005
  #28
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Don S's Avatar
 

FWIW, I had difficulty mixing ITB until I invested in a good DAC. I purchased a DAC1 and it revealed an awful EQ curve I was using to compensate for the poor on-board DAC (on a digi001 back then). Translation to any other system was very poor and I was very frustrated. I was even contemplating selling my 824's!
I'm quoting another GS, "You can't change what you cannot hear".

Best,
Don
Old 2nd September 2005
  #29
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to be sure

I'd do a flat mix, burn it to CD-R and listen to it on various systems to confirm it's the room.
Old 2nd September 2005
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Since most folks can't actually mix in a great room....or at least not tune their room really well I suggest you use the the switches on the back of the 824's to tune to your room, they will work wonders for your mixes and that is why Mackie (and others) put them there.


BTW...824 are not bass heavy (although they CAN boost bass if you set them up that way)...many people simply use them in incorrectly or have them set up wrong. They do not sound great...and are not that fun to listen to material on IME...But mixes translate well...That is thier strength. You pick what's important to you.

Besides..a 'bass heavy' sound doesn't prompt you to reach for highs...A 'dull' sound does which is a converter issue and room issue IMO.

I agree with Jose also....Leave the top end for the master buss...I think getting mixes should be fun for the ME...

Peace and Respect,
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