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Visual Peak Reduction in DAW
Old 21st March 2015
  #1
Visual Peak Reduction in DAW

As an addition to standard compression/limiting and gain controlling plugins (and manual automation), would it be so wrong to do the following? Wouldn't selecting visually allow a certain unique control over managing certain peaks without artifacts?

1. Open wav file of a performance in your generic DAW
2. Zoom out and to see the five to ten highest peaks.
3. One by one, zoom in on each peak and select just beginning and after the logical area making up each spike.
4. Run gain reduction to reduce the peak to where it visually matches the highest peaks surrounding it.
5. Repeat for other peaks.
6. Normalize the track using whatever the highest amount of gain reduction used on the peaks.

I've actually done this quite a bit on demo material. If I am fastidious about my selections, there are no artifacts.

It's better than a plugin, in a way. No fancy algorithms. Just subtraction.
Old 21st March 2015
  #2
Lives for gear
 
jlaws's Avatar
That's actually a fairly common practice in mastering to get the track louder. It can be used in conjunction with normal gain reduction methods (ie compression and limiting). I think I first read about that from an article on sos by Craig Anderton.
Old 21st March 2015
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlaws View Post
That's actually a fairly common practice in mastering to get the track louder. It can be used in conjunction with normal gain reduction methods (ie compression and limiting). I think I first read about that from an article on sos by Craig Anderton.
Ah, interesting. For some reason, I felt like I'm going to get a "oh, no you didn't!" from the audience.

It's not a rocket science technique and could be easily misused. But, I would figure somebody would do it because it's useful and easy. Thanks for the confirmation.
Old 21st March 2015
  #4
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jlaws's Avatar
Even if you did get an 'oh no you didn't', it would be best to keep trying unconventional things, if only for the sake of not sounding like everyone else. Fwiw I never would have thought of this technique without having read about it, so props for that! It means I should probably start being more creative in my approach to things.
Old 21st March 2015
  #5
Moderator
 
Blast9's Avatar
Yes I've done that... The other (non destructive) way to do it is is via automation.
Old 21st March 2015
  #6
Lives for gear
It's true ....

You can do manual peak limiting it sounds better.
You can manually de-ess vocals it sounds better.
You can manually ride vocals it sounds better.

Now it's just a matter of,

a. finding the extra time

b. Convincing people to pay for it!
Old 21st March 2015
  #7
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

I do it all the time. If you're working with a spiky and/or heavily limited mix, you could also try lining up a cooler, tidier version on a track underneath, and when you run across a spot in your "hot" track where it sounds excessively nasty, swap in that little bit from the cooler track.
Old 21st March 2015
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blast9 View Post
Yes I've done that... The other (non destructive) way to do it is is via automation.
I find manually editing the dynamic automation to be a valuable adjunct to automated compression. I 'even up' overall levels manually and then let a little carefully dialed in compression do its thing to smooth up the more minor variations.
Old 21st March 2015
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehightenor View Post
It's true ....

You can do manual peak limiting it sounds better.
You can manually de-ess vocals it sounds better.
You can manually ride vocals it sounds better.

Now it's just a matter of,

a. finding the extra time

b. Convincing people to pay for it!
I hadn't thought of the de-ess one. Nice. I assume you are doing this by ear, as in turning it down somehow when you hear it?

I am a fellow who records and mixes mostly me, my band, and the folks I'm associated with and thus the time and financial allocations are available and encourages by the client.

Though, I recently did a recording session for hire in which I had to hand off wav files that I'm not mixing myself. I normalized the files and am able to get more even levels results if I knock down a peak or two.
Old 21st March 2015
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I do it all the time. If you're working with a spiky and/or heavily limited mix, you could also try lining up a cooler, tidier version on a track underneath, and when you run across a spot in your "hot" track where it sounds excessively nasty, swap in that little bit from the cooler track.
An interesting idea, indeed.
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